The latest party leader to be eaten by this election is Mr Ōhāriu. From the worm to the planking, thanks for the memories, writes Toby Manhire
Three of the seven parties in the New Zealand parliament have seen a leader quit in the last three windswept weeks. Peter Dunne, leader of United Future and one New Zealand’s true political survivors, is the third. Staring down the barrel of defeat in Ōhāriu, a seat he has held for Labour MP, as an independent, for Future, for United NZ and finally as a United Future bolt-on to the National Party, Dunne has decided to throw in the paisley towel.
The hair. The bowties. The writing of blog posts with a quill. Dunne lent an eccentric and likeable quality to the parliamentary bear-pit. Today we farewell Captain Commonsense as the ultimate political long-player, and not only because he’ll have served as an MP for 33 ⅓ years.
Arthur Rimbaud got all his best ideas off Peter Dunne.
Formed out of a merger of United and Future and given the good name United Future, Peter Dunne’s nascent party rode a pixelated line all the way over the 5% threshold for the first and only time in 2002. The controversial “worm” function, which measured the audience response to a TVNZ leader debate featuring the likes of Bill English, Winston Peters and Laila Harre, is credited with giving Dunne a turbo boost that resulted in eight parliamentary seats.
He did planking on the television.
With the GCSB controversy at its peak, Peter Dunne was accused of leaking to then Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance the Kitteridge report into the agency’s unlwaful Kim Dotcom surveilliance. After refusing to hand over emails exchanged with Vance, Dunne quit his portfolios. He was later defended by the parliamentary Privileges Committee.
“There’s still a few people around who get fascinated by my hair. But many more people these days seem to want to talk to me about my bow tie.”
It is baffling how this failed to get Petermania going but there’s no explaining some people.
A divisive figure on drug policy, Dunne attracted sharp criticism over medical marijuana, particularly in the case of Helen Kelly, but was respected by many experts in the drug reform area for taking the evidence seriously and pushing against a stubborn government to seek change.
As internal affairs minister he oversaw the return to 10-year validity on New Zealand passports. Did you ever do that? No.
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