26 Aug 2012

Dunne challenges party members to mobilise

4:54 am on 26 August 2012

United Future leader Peter Dunne has challenged party members to mobilise voters to support the party at the next election.

About 20 people gathered in Auckland on Saturday for the party's annual meeting, where they endorsed a plan to re-brand the party.

At the last election, United Future won 0.6% of the party vote, an outcome that president Robin Gunston describes as "pretty pitiful".

He has put forward a plan to re-brand United Future as liberal democrats, which he says will link the party to a world-wide political movement.

Party leader, Peter Dunne, told the meeting people tell him they like what the party stands for but the challenge was to convert that support into votes.

"I am sick and tired of the number of times people tell me as I go round the country 'really like what you stand for, really think it's important you guys are there, really like the approach you take'.

"If 10% of them voted for us, we'd dominate Parliament."

Mr Dunne, who is the party's sole representative in Parliament, said United Future had been a successful support party under MMP, and would continue in that role.

Surival despite recurring theme of demise

Mr Dunne said the party has had several successes, including the Transmission Gully highway, and a Game Animal Council, which is to be established soon.

He told the meeting that a recurring theme in politics is that the demise of United Future is both imminent and overdue.

He said that has been raised again, with the Electoral Commission proposing changes to MMP that include removing the one electorate seat threshold for parties to get into Parliament.

Mr Dunne said the proposals were met with barely disguised glee by some who think it might finally deliver a death blow to the party.

But, he said, United Future has survived because there are enough New Zealanders who believe in its liberal democratic principles.

'Water belongs to everyone'

Mr Dunne also told the meeting that any agreement between the Government and iwi over water rights, must recognise that water belongs to everyone.

The Waitangi Tribunal has told the Government it should stop the partial sale of state-owned power companies, until an agreement on water rights can be reached with Maori.

Mr Dunne, who voted in favour of the partial asset sales programme, says Maori interests do need to be addressed.

"I think there does need to be a way through this developed but all I was really saying from our perspective is that we regard water as one of those inalienable national resources and we would be very uneasy about anything occuring that compromised that universality, if you like."