23 Dec 2013

Dunne happy to see 'worst' year end

1:23 pm on 23 December 2013

United Future leader Peter Dunne cannot wait for the year to end after a tough 12 months in politics.

And ACT Party leader John Banks will also be happy to see the end of 2013, although he says he ends the year with his head held high.

Peter Dunne.

Peter Dunne. Photo: RNZ

Radio New Zealand's political editor Brent Edwards looks at how the minor parties fared in 2013.

For Mr Dunne and Mr Banks things couldn't have gone worse. Both stepped down as ministers.

The United Future leader lost the confidence of Prime Minister John Key after he failed to fully co-operate with the inquiry into who leaked the Kitteridge report on the Government Communications Security Bureau.

"It's been the worst year that I can remember of all the years that I've had in politics," said Mr Dunne, adding he was very happy to see it come to an end.

"Out of it, however, some positives have arisen. The party is in a stronger position organisationally than it was though we still have a big task ahead of us."

John Banks was forced to step down once he faced going to trial over charges he filed a false electoral return after his unsuccessful Auckland mayoral bid in 2010.

John Banks.

John Banks. Photo: RNZ

But the ACT Party leader says he ends the year with his head held high, despite the ongoing controversy.

"I'm standing very strong, I'm looking forward to my day in court next year to prove my innocence. These charges are much more political than they are legal. The Labour Party have had a field day and some sections of the media have joined them."

Mr Banks has already announced he'll stand down as leader in the early part of next year, and won't contest the Epsom seat for ACT in the 2014 general election.

The Maori Party has not been dogged by the controversy of its two fellow government support parties but it, too, has had a difficult year. A spat over the leadership finally ended when Te Ururoa Flavell replaced Pita Sharples as co-leader although Dr Sharples retained his ministerial responsibilities.

Tariana Turia.

Tariana Turia. Photo: RNZ

The other co-leader, Tariana Turia, concedes the contest between Dr Sharples and Mr Flavell created damage and was difficult for the party. Mrs Turia says despite how the leadership changeover was portrayed by the media, there was no conflict between the three MPs. She said the party has achieved a lot this year and over the five years it has been supporting the Government.

But New Zealand First leader Winston Peters does not agree, saying latest figures show a large proportion of children in poverty are Maori and the party has "dramatically failed them".

Mr Peters has harassed the Maori Party most of the year as he has continued to lift the fortunes of the New Zealand First Party. Now it is talked about openly as a possible support party for either a Labour or National-led Government after next year's election.

The Green Party, too, has had a strong year and co-leader Russel Norman says his party is preparing to be part of the next Government, which will mean making compromises.

"The voters get to decide who has the balance of power within Parliament and so in that situation, if we're not a majority in our own right ... we'll have to compromise, so we'll get some things and we won't get others, but we've certainly worked with people plenty of times in the past, so that's not a problem."

Next year ACT, United Future and the Maori Party will be hoping to shrug off the controversies and problems which dogged them this year. New Zealand First and the Greens will be planning to build on what they've already done. Radio New Zealand was unable to get comment from Mana leader Hone Harawira.