A bad time for United Future

Kia Ora

The last two weeks have been a tough time for United Future. Last week I wrote about the deregistration of the Party because it could not show that it had the necessary 500 members to be registered as a political party with the Electoral Commission. That was just the start of a turbulent period for United Future which has shown no sign of letting up and has raised questions about its long term future in Parliament.

The funding row in Parliament over whether or not United Future is still able to claim Parliamentary funding whilst a deregistered Party, should not come as a surprise to anyone. Since the Party was deregistered last week over not having enough paid members, there have been significant questions over whether or not it still qualifies for Parliamentary support. The Opposition parties certainly do not think so.

A few days ago the Speaker of the House, the Hon. David Carter was forced to make a ruling on United Future’s eligibility for assistance by Parliamentary services for running the Parliamentary wing of the Party. the calls by Opposition Members of Parliament for Peter Dunne, the sole United Future Member of Parliament and a Minister of the Crown to have his Parliamentary funding severed have steadily grown into a crescendo.

Today he made his ruling. United Future could hang onto its Parliamentary funding. He refused to release the legal advice on which his ruling was based. The result was that Parliament degenerated into one of those occasional days where decorum appeared to have been thrown out the window. Members refused to apologise for accusations and chose to take leave of the House. A whole party walked out of the House in protest. Whilst Mr Dunne thought it was all child games that the public would see through, in the absence of the legal advice being released what if the Opposition Parties were correct? What if it was in contravention of Parliament to continue allowing United Future Parliamentary funding and support?

But that is not the only problem plaguing United Future. The leader of New Zealand First, the Right Honourable Winston Peters has also raised the question of whether or not Mr Dunne leaked a report regarding New Zealand citizens who had allegedly been spied on by the Government Communications Security Bureau. Under Section 78 of the Crimes Act it is a criminal offence to release classified security information.

These are tough times to be Mr Peter Dunne, Member of Parliament for Ohariu-Belmont and Minister of the Crown. Prime Minister John Key and his ministerial colleagues might have confidence in him and so might the Speaker of the House, but what if he is actually in the wrong?

Take Care,


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2 thoughts on “A bad time for United Future

  1. Seems logical to me that parliamentary funding should be for registered parties only: ie parties that meet the criteria, since United Future has been deregistered because it doesn’t meet the criteria then surely they no longer qualify. Open and shut case, No?
    I think the storm at the ruling is justified, and if there is legal basis for the ruling it needs to be put on the table directly in the interests of transparency, openness and accountability.
    Otherwise it’s clear that Parliamentary funding (money from the taxpayer) is being made to a party that should no longer exist because it would not meet the requirements of the New Zealand constitution … that would be a complete mockery of the system and ergo the New Zealand taxpayers.

  2. My question is, where do you draw the line about the number of members. At the commencement of a new election when the parties are registered with the Electoral commission, or sometime (very vague) after that?
    I would contend that at the election registration time would be the time.
    To decide to de-register a party, a census must be done on its members. This is what has been done for United future and they have been found to have a reduced membership mid electoral term.
    To be fair, this membership census would have to be done constantly in real time, perhaps on an electronic database. This is simply not feasible manually or electronically. I mean, who is to say that 6 months ago UF did not reach the membership requirements, or 9 months ago, or 10.5 months ago? So the time of examination of the membership is variable and this is not a firm criteria for a decision to be made.
    So what are the criteria for the Electoral Commission to examine membership?
    We know that they are NOT all done at the SAME time for the separate parties. (this has been reported in the media). So would it be fair say if say UF lost their party funding today, and then 2 months later the for example the Conservatives were tested, found wanting, and lost their funding then, then the eligibility for funding would have different rules and consequences for the separate parties dependent upon when they were examined for membership. And this is not fair.
    We pride ourselves on our egalitarian ethos in NZ, and the above argument proves that to cancel eligibility randomly sometime in mid term is not fair.

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