“It is time to call it a day,” says United Future Leader
The current political environment is extremely volatile and unpredictable.
However, I have concluded, based on recent polling, and other soundings I have been taking over the last few weeks, that, the volatility and uncertainty notwithstanding, there is now a mood amongst Ohariu voters for a change of MP, which is unlikely to alter.
This shift in voter sentiment is quite at variance with polling and other data I have seen throughout the year, upon which I had based my earlier decision to seek re-election for a 12th term as MP for Ohariu.
While I am naturally extremely disappointed after 33 years of service at this apparent change of feeling, I recognise and understand it, and respect absolutely the electorate’s prerogative to feel that way.
I have therefore decided that it is time for me to stand aside, so the people of Ohariu can elect a new electorate MP.
Consequently, after much consideration and discussion with those closest to me, I am announcing today that I will not be putting forward my nomination for election to the next Parliament.
I do so with considerable reluctance, but I have always understood that holding public office is a temporary privilege granted by the people, and can never be taken for granted.
I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the Ohariu electorate in its various forms since 1984. I thank my constituents, my supporters, my Party, and all those staff members who have worked so loyally and professionally alongside me over the years, but above all, I pay huge thanks to my wife Jennifer, my sons, James and Alastair, raised in the heat of politics, and my entire family for their loyal support, patience and encouragement for so long.
I am especially proud to have worked alongside successive National- and Labour-led Governments in the collaborative environment of MMP, and to have had the privilege of serving as first an Under-Secretary and then a Minister under seven different Prime Ministers for just on fifteen years.
I am very proud of the many changes I have been able to make in my portfolios over the years to make New Zealand a better place in which to live and raise a family.
Over the last three years alone, I have been very pleased to lead the work to modernise New Zealand’s drug policy towards a stronger health focus; and to make fluoridation of drinking water more widespread.
I was delighted to establish Fire and Emergency New Zealand which unified our urban and rural fire services in the biggest reform of our fire services in 70 years.
I was also very pleased to have been able to bring back 10-year passports.
The D5 group of the world’s most digitally advanced nations meets in New Zealand early next year.
Having overseen New Zealand help form the D5 group in 2014, I will be very sorry not to be chairing that meeting.
Lastly, I have enjoyed being part of the continuing drive to make the taonga of the National Library and the National Archives more widely available to all New Zealanders.
Ohariu has been a very large part of my life. I have lived continuously in the area for more than forty years. Jennifer and I raised our family in Ohariu.
It is our home. Working for the community and its people over the last 33 years has, at all times, been an absolute delight. I will miss hugely that direct engagement with so many aspects of the life of our community, and I will never forget the huge honour Ohariu gave me by electing me, first as a young 30-year-old, and then for the next ten elections after that.
But good things cannot last forever. Now it is time for me to put all that behind me, take the election hoardings down, say goodbye to Parliament without bitterness or regret, and get on with life.
Finally, my thanks and best wishes for the future go to Brett Hudson MP, National’s List MP based in Ohariu, for the support he has shown me throughout this year.
Peter Dunne is Interior Minister of New Zealand and an elected Member of Parliament from the Ohariu Constituency in South Island.