Peter Dunne on the power of his vote

Peter Dunne was interviewed on Q+A this morning. He was asked about “how much power a one-man party has in parliament.”

JESSICA You do hold a lot of power. You’re a one-man party. We’ve seen since 2008 that you’ve actually held the crucial vote on 20 pieces of legislation. Is it right that one person, yourself, has so much power?

PETER Well, firstly, I didn’t put myself in that position. The electorate dealt the cards at the election.

JESSICA But how do you deal with that?

PETER And the second point is how I deal with it. I don’t just wake up each morning and decide what capricious thing am I going to do today. I’ve got a quite developed matrix of how we deal with things. Firstly, is the issue under debate covered by the confidence and supply agreement that United Future has with National? If it is, as was the case with the mixed ownership model, for instance, then the outcome is very clear.

JESSICA Let’s touch on that for a moment – the asset sales legislation. You obviously hold the power to get that through for National. Does that give you a lot of extra power and bargaining power back?

PETER In some senses it does, on unrelated issues. But that was a very clear case. Our election policy said we oppose-

JESSICA Like what? What kind of trade-off-?

PETER I don’t want to go into specific detail, because that actually destroys the advantage that you’ve got. But come back to that one. Our election policy said that we were, in principal, opposed to asset sales except if the government nominated the energy companies and Air New Zealand, we would agree to that provided the public shareholding was to be no greater than 49% and there was a cap on individual shareholding. That was included on our negotiations and put into the agreement. And the government at that point didn’t want to statutorily specify those limits-

JESSICA So you got some influence over that.

PETER And so it became a no-brainer to vote for it when the legislation arrived.

JESSICA Another one-

PETER So that’s the first point. The second point – because I haven’t finished what I was saying before – if it’s not covered by the Confidence and Supply agreement, is it something that was covered by United Future’s election policy? And if it was, clearly you vote for in accordance with that. That’s why I’m backing Paid Parental Leave, for instance. The third one is neither of the above, and then it just comes down to, basically, the circumstances of the time and what seems like the right thing to do.

JESSICA And one of those things will be about SkyCity. The government will need you if it needs to work out some kind of a deal with SkyCity. Have you worked out any kind of pay-off for that?

PETER My view on that is quite simple. I think Auckland needs a world-class convention centre. In my role both as Associate Minister of Health and previously, I’ve been working over the last 10 years with the structure of-

JESSICA But will you get anything back?

PETER Hang on, hang on. And the important point about the SkyCity one, from my perspective, is if you can achieve the convention centre without a blowout in the number of gambling machines and an increase in the numbers of those, then that’s the best deal. But I’ve not seen any deal at this stage. It’s premature to talk about that. If there’s a trade-off then it may well be something that occurs at the time, but if you’re saying to me do I say ‘I support this in return for your doing that’, it’s not that crude.

JESSICA So you haven’t worked out any kind of agreement with-

PETER Well, it doesn’t work- I haven’t seen the details, so there is no agreement at this point, other than I’ve indicated the general view that I’ve just expressed to you. But it doesn’t work in the way of saying, ‘you give me this and I’ll give you that’. It works in the way of saying, ‘OK, I’ll give you this thing. Now, when there are things that arise that I might want, I suppose you could say there’s money in the bank’.

Video: Peter Dunne on the balance of power (9:48)

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1 Comment

  1. Darryl

     /  5th May 2013

    Peter spoke directly and competently, despite Jessica trying to turn it into something else. He is a very good Minister.

    Reply

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