United Future New Zealand: Wikis

  
  
  

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United Future
Leader Peter Dunne
President Denise Krum
Deputy Judy Turner
Founded 2000 (2000)
Headquarters Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Ideology Centrist
International affiliation Not affiliated
Official colours Purple and green
MPs in the House of Representatives 1
Website
www.unitedfuture.org.nz
Politics of New Zealand
Political parties
Elections

United Future New Zealand is a New Zealand political party. With the formation of the 49th New Zealand Parliament after the 2008 election, it will have a single member of the New Zealand Parliament – party leader Peter Dunne, an electorate MP – and it has signed a confidence and supply agreement with the National Party, making it, along with ACT and the Maori Party, a support partner to the minority National government.

Contents

Formation and early success

United Future was formed from the merger of centrist party United New Zealand and Christian-dominated conservative Future New Zealand to contest the 2002 election. United, formed as a centrist party by a group of moderate Labour and National MPs, held one seat in parliament. Future New Zealand, which was not represented in parliament, was a "secularised" evolution of the Christian Democrats, following the same basic principles as the Christian Democrats, but abandoning the explicit religious connection.

Some cynical commentators have said that the merger was more of a takeover, with the (arguably unelectable fundamentalist) Christian-dominated party, which had previously failed to reach the 5% MMP threshold, seeking an entry into Parliament via the security of Dunne's electorate seat, which the National Party did not contest in 1996 and 1999, but has contested since then. Indeed, many of United Future's original policies closely resembled those of the old Future New Zealand. In the 1999 election, United had gained 0.5% of the vote but Dunne won his electorate seat, while Future gained 1.1% of the vote.

United Future's first party president, Inky Tulloch, stated that "United Future isn't a Christian party – it's a political party that has a lot of Christians in it, and a lot of non-Christians." Tulloch said that the "universal principles of family, of common sense, of looking after one another, of compassion, integrity" are equally valuable to both Christians and non-Christians. Critics of the party, however, claim that the party's refusal to call itself Christian is merely a branding exercise, with the party not wanting to limit its appeal.

Most of United Future's 2002 MPs were elected in an astonishing last-week election turn-around (popularly attributed to a graphic "support worm" displayed during one televised debate) that saw votes lost by both the Labour and the Green parties, who were engaged in a public squabble over genetic engineering. However, the party suffered a minor embarrassment when one of its list MPs, Kelly Chal, was forced to give up her seat after it was disclosed that she was not a New Zealand citizen.

Early activity

After 2002 United Future in its family law reform proposals took to heart the trauma and adverse impact on children caused by the separation of their parents. United Future MP Judy Turner made clear that present government policies were failing in regard to keeping both parents in children's lives, and to this extend made a huge effort in forwarding a Member’s Bill on mandatory mediation by means of a national roll-out of the North Shore Family Court "Children in the Middle" pilot programme.

United Future MPs exercised their individual conscience votes to oppose a Bill to enable civil unions. This provided an alternative to marriage for same-sex couples and to opposite-sex couples who choose not to marry. A civil union provides a couple with most of the same rights as married couples. However, Peter Dunne and Judy Turner both supported a companion Bill to give legal recognition to civil unions.

In mid-2004 United Future announced that it would contest the 2005 general election in partnership with Outdoor Recreation New Zealand. Cynics pointed out that here was another minor party that failed to reach the 5% threshold (Outdoor Recreation gained 1.28% of the vote in the 2002 election) seeking parliamentary representation via the security of Peter Dunne's electorate seat.

A month before the 2005 election, list MP Paul Adams quit the party to stand as an independent in the East Coast Bays electorate. His daughter Sharee Adams, also on the United Future List, also quit to assist her father in his campaign. After the general election, disgruntled ex-United Future MP Marc Alexander also voiced repeated criticisms of his former colleagues, in his "Marc My Words" political opinion column for Scoop, a New Zealand news website.

In the 2005 election, United Future had the support of the WIN Party, which was set up to fight the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Win's leader, John van Buren, was United Future's candidate for Christchurch Central. This further spoke of alliances still to come. In this election, support plummeted to 2.8% and the party won only three seats. Peter Dunne retained Ohariu-Belmont, and Gordon Copeland and Judy Turner were returned on its party list.

United Future had tried to distance itself from its more assertive fundamentalist list MPs, such as Adams, Larry Baldock and Murray Smith. As Election New Zealand data revealed that the Outdoor Recreation Party still provided about 1% of the vote, 4.8% of the previous vote (possibly fundamentalist Christians) had gone elsewhere. During 2004-2005, the National Party had made renewed efforts to attract social conservative voters, through adoption of pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage voting records. United Future leader Peter Dunne, showed signs of frustration after the election results were announced.

Following the 2005 election, New Zealand First and United Future entered into a confidence and supply agreement with Labour, under which Dunne became Minister of Revenue, outside Cabinet.

In March 2006 Outdoor Recreation New Zealand split with United Future, due to a dissatisfaction with what it saw as the Christian evangelism within the party. Outdoor Recreation acting chairman Phil Hoare said, "We strongly believe in the traditional bedrock values of our nation's heritage but we also affirm the separation of church and state." [1]

United Future, like most New Zealand Parliamentary parties, was caught up in the 2005 New Zealand election funding controversy. It voted in favour of the retrospective validating legislation, which was passed through the New Zealand Parliament in October 2006.

Old United Future logo

From February to April 2007, Peter Dunne exercised his own right to a conscience vote to support Sue Bradford's private members bill against parental corporal punishment of children, while Gordon Copeland vigorously opposed it, as did Judy Turner, but on a more subtle level.[2]

On May 16, 2007, Copeland resigned from his former party due to his dissatisfaction with Dunne's support for the aforementioned private members bill, although Turner did not follow suit [3] Copeland has since indicated that he will form his own political party, Future New Zealand. Some former United Future New Zealand members have resigned in sympathy with Copeland, depriving the party of some of its former supporters.

On August 13, 2007 the party unveiled a new logo which Dunne says is a revitalisation of the party before the next election.[4] The re-branding of the party was taken further on September 3, 2007 when Peter Dunne announced that United Future is rebranding itself as a sensible, moderate centre party after the break with its Christian faction. Speaking of the departure of the Christian faction Dunne stated "I think it's taken a bit of a monkey off our back, frankly."[5]

Policy

United Future adopted the following mission statement in early 2007:

"United Future is a modern centre party, focused on New Zealand's best interests. We promote strong families and vibrant communities. We seek a fair, and open society, free from poverty, ignorance and prejudice, and based on innovation, self-reliance, justice and integrity in business and personal dealings. We promote a sustainable environment, and a competitive economy which encourages growth, prosperity, ownership and opportunity through market policies where possible, and government where necessary. We want all New Zealanders, whatever their background, race or creed, to have the chance to enjoy everything that is good in our country."[6]

In 2007 the party had a number of policy successes, including:

  • Bringing about the first cut in the business tax rate in 20 years;
  • Making all personal and corporate donations to charity tax deductible;
  • Extending summer daylight saving hours by three weeks;
  • Introducing legislation to increase the minimum driving age to 16 years;
  • Leading the campaign for a code of conduct for MPs;
  • Playing a leading role in getting the government to back down on planned new rules for financing elections, and proposed restrictions on births, deaths and marriages data for historical; and genealogical research purposes;
  • Establishing a special government task force to look at using deer, chamois and tahr as a recreational hunting resource.

2008 election

In 2008 the United Future Party named candidates for 51 seats.[7]). Policies included tax cuts and various initiatives aimed at supporting parents, such as the extension of paid parental leave to 12 months; the option of income splitting for parents with dependent children and couples in which one partner relies on the other for financial support; and the promotion of shared parenting. There were also a number of healthcare policies including granting everyone one free health check per year.

The election resulted in Peter Dunne's re-election as United Future's only surviving Member of Parliament. He retained his own parliamentary seat of Ohariu-Belmont, but United Future itself did not poll sufficiently highly to bring additional caucus members into Parliament alongside him. It is unknown how many former Future New Zealand members defected from United Future to establish The Kiwi Party, which was unsuccessful in retaining parliamentary representation after the election.

The National Party won the most seats overall and formed a minority government with support from United Future as well as the Maori Party and ACT New Zealand. Dunne retained his portfolios as Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister for Health.[8]

In his first speech since the 2008 election Dunne reasserted United Future's place in the political spectrum as follows. "There is still a place in New Zealand politics for a party committed to the enduring liberal principles of freedom of expression, conscience and belief, which promotes economic and individual freedom but accepts these must be tempered by social responsibility, and which regards families and communities as the basis for a thriving society. There is still a place for a party that speaks for those many thousands of politically dispossessed New Zealanders who see the National Party as simply too conservative, the Labour Party as too focused on promoting the power of the state, and the rest as too hard-line or extreme to be a credible political home. And there is still a place for a party that is proud to seek New Zealand’s future as the best multicultural country in the world, and is unafraid to promote the political and constitutional changes necessary to achieve that. While the UnitedFuture flame may flicker faintly at the moment, it will continue to burn, so long as there are people keen to see these values and principles represented on our political spectrum." This is seen as a further attempt to reposition the Party away from the conservative, fundamentalist approach of some of its former MPs.

Former MPs

See also

References

External links








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