Good to see some bite back in political media commentary

Ever since Heather du Plessis-Allan stopped writing about herself, she’s become useful again.

Former prime minister David Lange once described Peter Dunne as “a man whose life is so boring that if it flashed past he wouldn’t be in it”.

If it was meant as an insult, it shouldn’t be taken as one.

Lange may never have imagined what an appetite voters have for boring.

Dunne has served in more governments than most millennials have lived through.

He holds the record for the longest unbroken stint in Parliament.

He may also hold some record for code-swapping; trading in Labour for Independent, swapping that for Future, upgrading to United NZ, renaming that as United Future, supporting a Labour government and then defecting to support a National government.

It’s been 33 years and 11 elections and, if I was Peter Dunne, I’d say that’s enough. I’d call it a day.

One good reason is that the looming election may be the one the United Future leader finally loses.

In Ohariu, Dunne’s up against his most formidable opponent yet in former Police Association boss Greg O’Connor with his decades of public profile.

He’s up against a united Left, with the Greens standing aside to help Labour’s O’Connor win.

He’s getting no help from National, who won’t cut him a break by standing down their man in turn.

He’s done little to win headlines in the last few months other than by telling us he’s delegating his own duties, palming off to bureaucrats life-changing decisions on applications for access to medicinal cannabis.

And he’s running out of reasons to be in Parliament.

This week, he fired out an email explaining why he will win Ohariu again.

He called the “breathless hype and exaggeration” from those who say he’ll lose mostly “wildly inaccurate, ridiculously sensational, and so devoid of any factual basis that it could not even be described as ‘alternative’ facts”.

And yet the crux of his argument is that Ohariu will vote for him because a vote for any other candidate “will effectively be a vote to change the government”.

Dunne’s self-declared entire reason for existing is to prop up another party in government.

Hardly a reason for his more than $200,000 pay packet.

Dunne may be right, the commentators may be wrong.

Last election his career was apparently “in tatters” after he resigned as a minister following an information leak scandal.

Still, he scraped through. He crossed the line with a majority of 710 votes in a seat where he once commanded a lead of 12,000 plus.

And yet, what’s the point?

Even if he defeats the odds, he may only return to Parliament to serve out his three years staring at the carpet.

His true crime is that he asks people to vote for him as he will support the government, and then spent three years pretty much not doing so. ? The RMA reforms that National hoped to deliver this term died stillborn because he didn’t understand that nearly half of New Zealand had put National back this term to achieve exactly that.

His little tryst with Andrea Vance was never career ending but deliberately undermining?the major coalition partner will be.


– Heather du Plessis-Allan, NZ Herald