Dunne’s bot­tom lines

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

Peter Dunne was swept into Par­lia­ment on Labour’s 1984 land­slide, and yet in 2011 he was the first po­ten­tial ally that re-elected Prime Min­is­ter John Key met.

He said the two had ex­changed pleas­antries on elec­tion night, but when they met two days later Mr Key wanted the con­fi­dence of al­ready hav­ing a ma­jor­ity sewn up be­fore he spoke to oth­ers.

With the tacit sup­port of Mr Key, Mr Dunne was re­turned with an elec­tion-night ma­jor­ity of 1646, up more than 600 on 2008.

National dom­i­nated the party vote with 16,042 votes – 50 per cent of votes cast. Labour can­di­date Charles Chau­vel bucked his party’s trend and in­creased his vote by 300, but it wasn’t enough.

Mr Dunne cam­paigned in Ohariu on a 10-point pol­icy plat­form, which he ex­pected to see fully im­ple­mented over the next term.

He sup­ported a par­tial sale of state-owned as­sets, apart from Ki­wibank, Ra­dio New Zealand and water.

‘‘Ki­wibank, be­cause I think it is im­por­tant that we have our own bank. I’ve be­come a con­vert to that point of view over the last few years.’’

Ra­dio New Zealand had no great fi­nan­cial worth but Mr Dunne said it was an iden­ti­fi­able, dis­tinc­tive national broad­caster.

Water is not yet on the auc­tion block but there is a dan­ger that, in the con­text of trade­able water rights, and it could end up in pri­vate own­er­ship by de­fault.

‘‘It’s not so much the pre­ven­tion of pri­vati­sa­tion, but some clar­ity of own­er­ship.’’

Power com­pa­nies would need to ex­pand, and pri­vate cap­i­tal was the only way he could see that be­ing funded, though clear rules were needed to limit pri­vate own­er­ship and spell out how the govern­ment could in­flu­ence prices.

‘‘The nub of the is­sue is not so much the sell­ing of the shares, it’s the con­trol frame­work that goes around that.’’

Mr Dunne was at odds with National’s pol­icy over su­per­an­nu­a­tion.

National saw no need for changes to en­ti­tle­ment age of 65, whereas Mr Dunne wanted peo­ple to have the op­tion of phased en­ti­tle­ments – those who want to re­tire a 60 could do so at a re­duced pen­sion, or they could de­fer re­tire­ment un­til 70 and get a higher pay­ment.

Many peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly Maori, Pa­cific and man­ual work­ers don’t get much time post65, he said.

‘‘We stood on a slo­gan of fair­ness and choice, and part of fair­ness giv­ing peo­ple as equal ac­cess as you can to the en­ti­tle­ments that the state pro­vides for them.

‘‘If you de­mo­graph­i­cally do not have much chance of be­ing around post-65, it’s a lit­tle fairer to give you that chance to take your su­per­an­nu­a­tion a lit­tle ear­lier, al­beit at a re­duced rate.’’

Asked whether 1080 pes­ti­cide would be a deal-breaker for him, he said em­phat­i­cally, ‘‘no’’.

‘‘We cer­tainly want to see 1080 phased out. There is a lot of ev­i­dence about its de­struc­tive­ness of habi­tats and species, but we have never been so ir­re­spon­si­ble as to sug­gest it should be phased out in the ab­sence of an al­ter­na­tive.’’

When we spoke to Mr Key two weeks ago he de­flected ques­tions about try­ing to ad­dress the 20 per cent of chil­dren who fail at school with national ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards, when the So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­istry has found that the same per­cent­age of chil­dren are liv­ing in poverty.

Mr Dunne said bet­ter tar­geted and mon­i­tored so­cial wel­fare as­sis­tance was part of the an­swer, ‘‘but over­all the em­pha­sis has to be on boost­ing in­comes, and boost­ing in­comes that are earned’’.

Dur­ing National’s three years in of­fice elec­tive surgery and can­cer treat­ment wait­ing lists have re­duced, but it has come at the ex­pense of pri­mary health care.

Many pri­mary health care or­gan­i­sa­tions have closed their pa­tient lists and are ac­cept­ing no new pa­tients.

The wait­ing list im­prove­ments were wel­come, Mr Dunne said.

‘‘If you are achiev­ing this at the ex­pense of that it’s a tem­po­rary phe­nom­e­non,’’ he said. ‘‘The is­sue is go­ing to arise again, whether it is in this three years or the next.’’ Can he do any­thing about it? ‘‘ I’m As­so­ci­ate Min­is­ter of Health at the mo­ment and it’s within my baili­wick, and if I’m still in this role once ne­go­ti­a­tions are com­plete, it’s some­thing that will be a pri­or­ity.’’

Photo: JIM CHIPP

All he sur­veys: Peter Dunne over­looks the Ohariu elec­torate he will rep­re­sent for the 10th term.

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