Thursday, February 21, 2008

Well Dunne?

I read this speech from Peter Dunne earlier today. He says:
Last year, UnitedFuture learned a powerful lesson – via the medium of the Electoral Finance Bill - about listening to the community.
Let me say this as I clearly as I can: we were wrong to support that legislation for as long as we did, and while I am pleased we eventually came to our senses and opposed the Bill, it remains one of my greatest regrets in politics that we misread the situation for so long.

But we have learned our lesson as a consequence – we will listen to the voice of New Zealanders far more closely in future, and then we will act accordingly.

We will undoubtedly disagree from time to time – I am not suggesting we should become a blank piece of paper to be written all over as the mood suits – but as best we can, we will redouble our commitment to put the public interest ahead of that of party or government.
Peter wants to listen to the voice of New Zealanders and act accordingly. David Farrar believes it is a genuine expression of Peter’s views on the issue. But as I said there is a subtle difference between listening to the voice of New Zealanders and acting accordingly, as opposed to listening to the voice of New Zealanders and voting accordingly with public opinion.

So I thought I`d ask Peter with reference to legislation in general, not just the Electoral Finance Act. His reponse was that votes will be a judgement call, obviously dependent on the nature of the issue, but the intention is clear, in so far as the taking of party positions is concerned. Matters that are being treated as conscience votes will remain for the individual to resolve.

I believe Peter is genuinely putting the public interest first. I really do. It's just that the public don't often agree with his perspective of what is in the public interest - and that does not really appear to be a concern to Peter. With party votes, he`ll listen and act accordingly. If the public don't agree with what he thinks is in the public interest, he`ll vote accordingly, like he did with the smacking legislation. In other words he`ll exercise his vote - and while "acting accordingly", it may not necessarily be "voting accordingly", notwithstanding his U-Turn on the Electoral Finance Bill.

Meaning that if 74 percent of the electorate want to support the upcoming referendum on child discipline and the government decides to legislate, Dunne may not necessarily change his vote in support of the referendum if he believes the public is wrong.




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