BIG NEWS: Key may have minister from a minor party even if National were to govern alone

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Key may have minister from a minor party even if National were to govern alone

I attended my first political party conference today for two reasons: One it was just down the road from where I live, and Prime Minister John Key was there.

John Key has lived in Peter Dunne’s electorate. Key and Dunne obviously have a good relationship, and will continue to do so after the election. Key said Dunne has done an “excellent job” as a minister in a complex portfolio. At the stand up after Key’s speech, he said even if National governed alone, conversation lines will still be open with “all minor (parliamentary) parties like Act and United Future.

I asked Key if his relationship with Dunne, who is associate Minister of Health and Revenue Minister, would change. His first word in his reply was no. Nor did he rule out a leader from a minor party –like Dunne in UnitedFuture –from having a ministerial role in a situation should National govern alone.

That would be a first.

Key said any minor party ministerial roles would depend on what expectations minor parties had in ministerial roles – but it is pretty clear what Dunne’s expectations are.

It is clear that Key obviously wants Dunne back in Parliament. Gossip among the press gallery is that Dunne is in danger of losing his seat – and would have lost it in 2008 had the Greens and Labour tag-teamed. Key was asked by reporters if his invite to the UnitedFuture conference was to drum up support for Dunne. He laughed that off, as expected, and said his standard line that it is up to the people of Ohariu who they give their candidate vote to but National will be running a strong party vote in the electorate.

That said, Key sees Dunne as someone who he sees as a like-minded person whom can work through sensible compromises. As long as Dunne has a reasonable chance of being elected in Ohariu-Belmont, the National candidate will be told to run a strong party vote campaign, and be told their entry to parliament depends on their list placing. National will hope its supporters will split their vote.

At the conference, Dunne also announced changes to child support, including the reduction in the number of nights a year used to determine shared care being reduced from 40 percent to 28 percent of nights. Child support payments will be deducted directly from the paying parent's wages.

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