We’re very pleased to have UnitedFuture Leader Peter Dunne respond to your questions as part of our Interview the Leaders series.
Question to all leaders:
Of which of your achievements in politics are you most proud?
At a national level, I am most proud of the tax changes for which I have been responsible in the last three years: the first business tax cut in 20 years, including the introduction of comprehensive policies to boost research and development, and changes to international tax arrangements; my involvement in the forthcoming associated reductions in personal taxes; and, the radical reforms of the tax treatment of charitable donations. Most of these flow from UnitedFuture’s 2005 Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Labour-led Government, and show the value that a support party with a constructive approach and clear agenda can provide.
There are other issues as well – such as the development of the National Medicines Strategy, Medicines New Zealand, during this term, and my earlier involvement in the last round of personal tax cuts when Minister of Revenue in the National/United Government in the mid 1990s.
I am especially pleased at the way I was able to bring family issues onto the election agenda in 2002 and to note that now, in stark contrast to earlier years, every political party bends over backwards to present itself as family friendly.
At an electorate level, I am proudest of the help I have been able to provide to thousands of constituents who have come to see me over the years, and to be able to keep in touch with them and their families and see how they are getting on with their lives as a consequence.
From reader Sam Dixon: “You regularly call for cross-party concensus on issues, the latest being the Electoral Finance Act, broadband, and the Emissions Trading Scheme. Isn’t democracy about parties presenting different policy choices and the people having the chance to decide which they prefer?”
Democracy is about parties presenting different policy positions for the public to judge – and UnitedFuture has plenty of policy to promote in that regard. But democracy is also about understanding no one party or politician has a mortgage on good ideas, and that other parties have a contribution to make. I am a great believer in people and parties working together on the things they agree upon, rather than forever arguing about the things they disagree over. Where there is common ground, we should seek to achieve it, rather than retreat to rigidly held ideological positions which are ultimately divisive.
From reader Ted, as modified by user Peak Oil Conspiracy: “Which MP from a party other than your own do you find your views most closely align with; and why?”
This is difficult to answer because there are aspects of many politicians from across the spectrum that I admire. Overall though there are three politicians whose views and approach I would regard as closest to my own: John Key, Michael Cullen, and Helen Clark.
John Key is centrist and pragmatic with an inherent feel for what is right, and Michael Cullen is intellectually measured and dispassionate. Helen Clark stands out for her grit and determination. I can relate to elements of all three, but I think, on balance, my basic views and approach would be closest to John Key’s, with a touch of Helen Clark’s stubbornness and determination thrown in.
Over the years I have been in parliament, though, the mp whose views and approach I have felt most closely aligned to was Jim Bolger.