Peter Dunne (born 17 March 1954), a New Zealand politician and Member of Parliament, leads the United Future political party. He has served as a Cabinet minister in governments dominated by the centre-left Labour Party as well as by the centre-right National Party. From 2005-2008 he held the posts of Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister of Health as a minister outside of Cabinet with the Labour-led government. After Labour suffered an election defeat in 2008 to the National Party, United Future was reduced to having Peter Dunne as its sole MP. However, in a deal between United Future and National, Dunne retained his two portfolios outside cabinet.
Labour Party MP
In the 1984 elections, Dunne successfully stood for Parliament, winning the seat of Ohariu as a candidate of the Labour Party, defeating National MP Hugh Templeton. He held that seat in the 1987 elections, after which he became a Parliamentary Undersecretary. Later, in 1990, he became Minister of Regional Development, Associate Minister for the Environment, and Associate Minister of Justice. He retained his seat again in the 1990 elections, but the Labour government suffered defeat, and Dunne lost his ministerial posts.
In the 1993 elections, Dunne won the seat of Onslow, which covered much the same area as his former Ohariu seat. He found himself, however, increasingly at odds with the majority of the Labour Party – Dunne tended to support Labour s right-leaning faction rather than the party s more unionist wing. With the departure of leading right-wingers like Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble and David Caygill he found himself isolated. In October 1994 Dunne resigned from the Labour Party, becoming an independent.
A short time later, he established the Future New Zealand party (not to be confused with a later party of the same name).
United Future New Zealand Party
Shortly before the 2002 elections, Dunne s United merged with the Future New Zealand party (not to be confused with Dunne s own earlier party of the same name). Dunne remained leader of the new group, called United Future New Zealand. In the 2002 elections, Dunne retained his seat despite challenges from both major parties. Mostly as a result of a strong performance by Dunne in a televised political debate, United Future surged unexpectedly in support, winning 6.69% of the nationwide party vote. In Parliament, United Future came to an agreement to support the governing Labour Party, although the two parties did not enter into a formal coalition arrangement. Dunne remained United Future s leader.
Against this, however, Dunne consistently supported Sue Bradford s Child Discipline Act, despite aversion to other elements of the Greens social reform agenda, like decriminalisation of marijuana. He also strongly supported the decriminalisation of homosexuality when it became an issue in the mid 1980s, and has consistently favoured more liberal drinking laws. In a recent interview, he suggested it may be time to review New Zealand s abortion laws and leave the decision to a woman and her doctor, based on informed consent.
Since 2007, Dunne has rebranded United Future as a modern centre party, based on promoting strong families and vibrant communities. He wants United Future to become New Zealand s version of Britain s Liberal Democrats. Dunne has summarised his political views in two books, Home is Where My Heart Is (2002) and In the Centre of Things (2005).
Dunne strongly supports New Zealand becoming a republic, and holding an early referendum on the future of New Zealand s head of state is now part . f United Future s policy programme. In 2004, he chaired the Constitutional Arrangements Committee. Dunne also supports the creation of a New Zealand Day and has sponsored a members Bill on the issue.