Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Dunne: Leader's Letter October 16 2006

Dunne: Leader's Letter October 16 2006

The funny thing about history is how often it repeats itself. Or, as Karl Marx once famously put it, the thing to learn about history is that people don't. That is as true in politics as anywhere else, as a couple of recent examples show.

I was intrigued recently to learn that ACT had embarked upon an international mission to discover how it could become relevant in an MMP environment. The conclusions were breathtaking: work with other parties on an issue-by-issue basis where you have common ground. Now doesn't that all sound a little familiar? It is precisely the way in which United Future has operated since MMP came in a decade ago, and it is why we have been successful in that time, being a confidence and supply partner to the government of the day for seven of the last ten years, and achieving a number of policy successes along the way.

It is quite a contrast to ACT, which has never been near government in that time, pinning its colours solely to the National mast, and now falling out with it over the election spending issue. All the while they have periodically criticised United Future as expedient, political poodles, and even more lurid descriptions for seeking to work with the government of the day to make incremental policy gains.

Yet now ACT announces to the world that it has discovered this amazing new strategy of working with other parties on a policy compatibility basis. Good on them, I say. After all, they have finally discovered what United Future has known for ten years, that small parties are effective under MMP when they are able to work with larger parties to achieve common policy goals. Baying from the sidelines, hidebound by principle, may have some limited satisfaction but it is ultimately unrewarding and irrelevant.

And then there is the ongoing tax cut debate. The very large government surplus announced last week means two things – the business tax reduction proposals I announced with Michael Cullen in the Business Tax Review in July will go ahead from April 2008, and they will be accompanied by personal tax adjustments as well, just as we foreshadowed.

These will be the first major tax cuts by either government since 1996. And what is the October 16, 2006 No. 10 common link? The answer is simple: United Future. We were in coalition with National and I was Minister of Revenue when the 1996 tax cuts were made, and now we are working with Labour and I am Minister of Revenue again when tax cuts are seriously on the agenda once more. That is why I said to our party conference last year, "Put United Future anywhere near government and taxes come down." History is repeating itself, and a small party is showing once again how it can play a constructive role under MMP. As you know, I have been very critical of the deterioration in political standards over the last months, describing the current political environment as the most toxic and bitter I have experienced in over 20 years in Parliament.

I was discussing this matter in London recently with the Commonwealth Secretary- General, Don McKinnon, who observed that this type of behaviour was sadly an increasing trend throughout the Commonwealth, and that scandal-mongering, corruption allegations and dirt-digging exercises on political opponents were now almost routine events.

Two things arise from this. First, if we continue to slide down this path then not only will the quality of political discourse continue to deteriorate, but so too will the calibre of people offering themselves for political office decline, as few will be prepared to submit to the level of scrutiny and prying into private lives we now seem to be embarking upon. The implications of that for long-term good governance are equally obvious.

Second, while a free press is in many cases the ultimate safeguard of democracy, it has also to be a responsible press. The sensational publication of unfounded allegations, the trivialisation of political debate to tabloid level, the unwillingness to even attempt to understand complex issues and the rationale behind them, and the twisting of comments to gain a headline, are all examples of where a free press is not a responsible press and contributes, not to the flourishing of democracy, but to its debasement. What we need are responsible political leaders who are prepared to step above the nasty fray we seem to be entering into, backed up by responsible media that will not allow itself to be dragged into the mindless pursuit of the sensation of the day approach to political reporting.

Internal democracy is alive and well within United Future, with party members voting over the next month for positions on the party's Board. Eight candidates are chasing five spots. Three of the candidates are sitting members whose terms have expired. President Graeme Reeves, Vice President Denise Krum and former chief executive Gina Woodfield have all made outstanding contributions to the Board and the party over the years, and my strong hope is that all will be re-elected to continue their work.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Politics Of Why We’re Not Getting An Inquiry Into The White Island Disaster

The Ardern government has made an art form out of reviews and inquiries- when to hold them, when to fold them, and when to shelve the findings, virtually untouched. Among other things, the WorkSafe criminal proceedings into the Whakaari /White Island disaster look like the outcome of a conscious political strategy. The government is choosing this route instead holding a proper inquiry, because it can conveniently narrow the focus only to (a) the events prior to the eruption and (b) solely to possible violations of our labour laws... More>>

 

UN SDG: A Greener, Cleaner, Brighter Future

'The world has a high fever and is burning up. Climate disruption is daily news – from devastating wildfires to record floods. The damage to people and the environment is immense and growing.' - UN Secretary-General António Guterres ... More>>

ALSO:

Carbon Neutral Policy: Gov Declares Climate Emergency

The Government has launched a major new initiative to combat climate change that will require the public sector to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. More>>

ALSO:

Pill Testing: Govt Moves On Drug Checking To Keep Young New Zealanders Safer This Summer

The Government will pass time limited legislation to give legal certainty to drug checking services, so they can carry out their work to keep New Zealanders safer this summer at festivals without fear of prosecution, Health Minister Andrew Little ... More>>

ALSO:

Tax: Government Fulfils Election Undertaking On New Top Tax Rate

The Government will today keep its election promise to put in place a new top tax rate of 39 per cent on income earned over $180,000. More>>

ALSO:

Media: Stuff Holds Itself Accountable For Wrongs To Māori

Stuff has today published the results of an investigation into itself, and issued a public apology, for the way the media organisation has portrayed Māori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand, from its first editions to now. Tā Mātou Pono | More>>

ALSO:

Economy: Crown Accounts Reflect Govt’s Careful Economic Management

The better-than-expected Crown accounts released today show the Government’s careful management of the COVID-19 health crisis was the right approach to support the economy. As expected, the Crown accounts for the year to June 2020 show the operating balance ... More>>

ALSO:


 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels