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Dunne: Statement On Auditor-General

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Statement from the Leader of United Future, Peter Dunne

In recent weeks I have been publicly critical on a couple of occasions of the way in which the Auditor-General and the Solicitor-General have conducted the inquiry into election spending.

In doing so, I have fallen into the trap of allowing my strong personal views that their inquiries have been characterised by naiveté and a lack of natural justice to cloud my public judgment and reaction. I now regret that very much.

The Auditor-General is a key watchdog and safeguard of the public interest, and the Solicitor-General is the principal legal officer of the Crown. Those holding those offices for the time being are entitled to public respect, whatever one's view of their individual actions in particular cases.

We have had too much political character assassination and downright bitterness and nastiness in recent weeks, and New Zealanders are rightly repulsed by what they have seen and heard. This is a time for mature political leadership that seeks to bring our country together once more, and focus afresh on the issues that are important to us all, rather than carry on with the sullen name-calling that has passed for political debate of late.

As a step towards a fresh direction, United Future has independently re-examined its own use of Parliamentary funds prior to the last election. We have identified a sum of $4965.30 where we consider we breached the rules, and will repay that, regardless of any decision the Auditor-General might come to. If at the end of the current process, we are directed to repay any other sums, we will seek to do so.

A healthy democracy thrives on vibrant and diverse political parties debating the issues of the day. The focus from now must be on returning to that position, rather than carrying on with the litany of bitterness that we have seen too much of this year.

ENDS

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