United Future

For other uses, see United Future (disambiguation).
United Future New Zealand
Leader Peter Dunne
Secretary-General Ron Garrod
Deputy Leader Judy Turner
Founded 2000
Headquarters Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Ideology Social liberalism
Political position Centre
International affiliation Liberal International
Colors Purple and green
MPs in the House of Representatives
1 / 121

United Future New Zealand,[2] usually known as United Future, is a centrist political party in New Zealand. With the formation of the 50th New Zealand Parliament after the 2011 election,[3] it had a single member of the Parliament of New Zealand – party leader Peter Dunne, an electorate Member of Parliament (MP) – and it has signed a confidence and supply agreement with the National Party, making it, along with ACT and the Maori Party, a support partner to the minority National government. The result of the 2014 general election was much the same for United Future, with Peter Dunne remaining the only MP from his party.[4] The Party has been in government since 2005 under Labour (2005-2008) and then National (since 2008).

Formation and early success

United Future was formed from the merger of liberal centrist party United New Zealand and Christian-dominated conservative Future New Zealand to contest the 2002 election. United, formed as a centrist party by a group of moderate Labour and National MPs, held one seat in parliament—that of Dunne. Future New Zealand, which was not represented in parliament, was a "secularised" evolution of the Christian Democrats, following the same basic principles as the Christian Democrats, but abandoning the explicit religious connection.[5]

United Future's first party president, Inky Tulloch, stated that "United Future isn't a Christian party – it's a political party that has a lot of Christians in it, and a lot of non-Christians."[5] Tulloch said that the "universal principles of family, of common sense, of looking after one another, of compassion, integrity" are equally valuable to both Christians and non-Christians.[5]

Support for United Future, which was already growing in early 2002, was boosted further by Peter Dunne's strong television debating performance and the public response to it. The uplift in United Future support during the last two weeks of the campaign caught many commentators by surprise and drew votes away from National, Labour and the Green parties, who were engaged in a public squabble over genetic engineering.

United Future made a strong showing in the 2002 election, taking 6.7 percent of the vote and eight seats: Dunne's electorate seat of Ohariu-Belmont and seven list seats.[6] It would have been assured of getting into parliament in any event, however; under New Zealand's mixed-member proportional system, any party that wins at least one electorate seat qualifies for list seats even if it falls short of the five-percent threshold. The party faced a minor embarrassment after the election, however, when it was discovered that one of its list MPs, Kelly Chal, was not a New Zealand citizen, and thus ineligible to stand for parliament.[7]

Early activity

After 2002 United Future in its family law reform proposals took to heart the trauma and adverse impact on children caused by the separation of their parents. United Future MP Judy Turner made clear that then current government policies were failing in regard to keeping both parents in children's lives, and to this extent made a huge effort in promoting a Member’s Bill on mandatory mediation by means of a national roll-out of the North Shore Family Court "Children in the Middle" pilot programme.

In December 2004, United Future MPs exercised their individual conscience votes to oppose a Bill to enable civil unions. This provided an alternative to marriage for same-sex couples and to opposite-sex couples who choose not to marry. A civil union provides a couple with most of the same rights as married couples. However, Peter Dunne and Judy Turner both supported a companion Bill to give legal recognition to civil unions.

In mid-2004 United Future announced that it would contest the 2005 general election in partnership with Outdoor Recreation New Zealand. Cynics pointed out that, like Future New Zealand, Outdoor Recreation was a minor party with no prospect of reaching the 5% threshold (Outdoor Recreation gained 1.28% of the vote in the 2002 election) seeking parliamentary representation via the security of Peter Dunne's electorate seat.

A month before the September 2005 election, list MP Paul Adams quit the party to stand as an independent in the East Coast Bays electorate. His daughter Sharee Adams, also on the United Future List, also quit to assist her father in his campaign. After the general election, disgruntled right-winger and ex-United Future MP Marc Alexander also voiced repeated criticisms of his former colleagues, in his "Marc My Words" political opinion column for Scoop, a New Zealand news website.

In the 2005 election, United Future had the support of the WIN Party, which was set up to fight the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. WIN's leader, John van Buren, was United Future's candidate for Christchurch Central. This further spoke of alliances still to come. In this election, support plummeted to 2.8% and the party won only three seats. Peter Dunne retained Ohariu-Belmont, and Gordon Copeland and Judy Turner were returned on its party list.

United Future had tried to distance itself from its more assertive fundamentalist list MPs, such as Adams, Larry Baldock and Murray Smith. As Election New Zealand data revealed that the Outdoor Recreation Party still provided about 1% of the vote, 4.8% of the previous vote had gone elsewhere. During 2004-2005, the National Party had made renewed efforts to attract social conservative voters, through adoption of pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage voting records.

Following the 2005 election, New Zealand First and United Future entered into a confidence and supply agreement with Labour, under which Dunne became Minister of Revenue, outside Cabinet.

In March 2006 Outdoor Recreation New Zealand split with United Future, due to a dissatisfaction with what it saw as the Christian evangelism within the party. Outdoor Recreation acting chairman Phil Hoare said, "We strongly believe in the traditional bedrock values of our nation's heritage but we also affirm the separation of church and state." [8] In 2006 several younger centrist members also departed from the party.

United Future, like most New Zealand Parliamentary parties, was caught up in the 2005 New Zealand election funding controversy. It voted in favour of the retrospective validating legislation, which was passed through the New Zealand Parliament in October 2006.

Old United Future logo

From February to April 2007, Peter Dunne exercised his own right to a conscience vote to support Sue Bradford's private members bill against parental corporal punishment of children, while Gordon Copeland vigorously opposed it, as did Judy Turner, but on a more subtle level.[9]

On 16 May 2007, Copeland resigned from the party due to his dissatisfaction with Dunne's support for the aforementioned private members bill, although Turner did not follow suit.[10] Copeland was subsequently part of forming the socially conservative Kiwi Party. Several other United Future members resigned in sympathy with Copeland, including former United Future List MPs Larry Baldock and Bernie Ogilvy. In 2011, the Kiwi Party ceased to exist as an independent entity after it merged with the Conservative Party of New Zealand, another conservative Christian dominated centre-right political party, currently unrepresented in Parliament.

On 13 August 2007 United Future unveiled a new logo which Dunne said was a revitalisation of the party before the 2008 election.[11] The re-branding of the party was taken further on 3 September 2007 when Peter Dunne announced that United Future was becoming a sensible, moderate centrist party after the break with its former conservative Christian faction. Speaking of the departure of Copeland and the rest of the more strident Christians in the party, Dunne said, "I think it's taken a bit of a monkey off our back, frankly."[12]

2008 election

In 2008 the United Future Party named candidates for 51 seats.[13] Policies included tax cuts and various initiatives aimed at supporting parents, such as the extension of paid parental leave to 12 months; the option of income splitting for tax purposes for parents with dependent children and couples in which one partner relies on the other for financial support; and the promotion of shared parenting. There were also a number of health care policies including granting everyone one free health check per year.

Peter Dunne was re-elected as United Future's only Member of Parliament. He retained his parliamentary seat of Ohariu-Belmont, but United Future did not poll sufficiently highly to bring additional caucus members into Parliament. Some Future New Zealand members defected from United Future to establish The Kiwi Party, which was unsuccessful in retaining parliamentary representation after the election.

The National Party won the most seats overall and formed a minority government with support from United Future, the Maori Party and ACT New Zealand. Dunne retained his portfolios as Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister for Health.[14]

2011 election

In 2011 United Future campaigned on income splitting, flexible superannuation and restricting asset sales.[15]

Peter Dunne retained the electorate of Ōhariu electorate, formerly Ohariu-Belmont. The Labour candidate Charles Chauvel accused Dunne and the National Party of an "unprincipled political deal" which encouraged National voters to give their electorate vote to Dunne to ensure his survival as an MP.[16]

As in 2008, the National Party won the most seats overall and formed a minority government with support from United Future, the Maori Party and ACT New Zealand. Together with his previous Revenue and Associate Health portfolios, Dunne became Associate Minister of Conservation. The agreement included provisions barring the sale of Kiwibank or Radio New Zealand, and public consultation on United Future's flexible superannuation policy.[17]

2014 election

As in 2008 and 2011, the National Party won the most seats overall and formed a minority government with support from United Future and the Maori Party.


United Future adopted the following mission statement in early 2007:

"United Future is a modern centre party, focused on New Zealand's best interests. We promote strong families and vibrant communities. We seek a fair, and open society, free from poverty, ignorance and prejudice, and based on innovation, self-reliance, justice and integrity in business and personal dealings. We promote a sustainable environment, and a competitive economy which encourages growth, prosperity, ownership and opportunity through market policies where possible, and government where necessary. We want all New Zealanders, whatever their background, race or creed, to have the chance to enjoy everything that is good in our country."[18]

In 2007 the party had a number of policy successes, including:

Temporary party de-registration and subsequent re-registration

On 31 May 2013 the Electoral Commission cancelled United Future's registration at the party's request after it failed to retain 500 members.[19] The party became an unregistered party - unable to contest the party-list vote. However, on 10 June 2013, its party president made a media release stating that it had succeeded in attracting the needed 500 members for re-registration.[20] It was subsequently reported that United Future was encountering difficulties over its re-registration, related to the need to acquire printed proof of sufficient membership, although Party President Robin Gunston had supplied the Electoral Commission with copies of traceable economic transactions associated with the influx of new members.[21]

On 16 June 2013 the New Zealand Electoral Commission noted that United Future had provided the aforementioned spreadsheet record, which contained names and details of putative party members. It noted that under Section 63 of the New Zealand Electoral Act 1993, bona fide registered political parties were bound to supply name, address, eligibility for membership, evidence of paid membership fees, member authorisation to record such details and to release them to a third party. The Commission stated that it would therefore accept signed and dated (although electronically submitted) membership forms from United Future and other eligible parties as evidence of membership enrolment. Signature and membership authenticity had yet to be assessed at that point [22]

Events took a further turn when New Zealand Parliament Speaker David Carter ruled that as United Future could not guarantee that his party had 500 financially solvent members for another six to eight weeks after Dunne had submitted a membership list to the New Zealand Electoral Commission, Dunne would therefore have to sit as an "independent" Member of Parliament, and to forfeit NZ$100,000 parliamentary party leader operational funding unless and until United Future could conclusively establish whether or not it had sufficient membership to warrant re-registration. This occurred after New Zealand Labour Party MP Trevor Mallard contacted the New Zealand Attorney-General over the current legal status of United Future[23]

On 8 July 2013 Dunne stated that his party had now been able to enrol sufficient members to satisfy the Electoral Commission's random sampling techniques, although he also noted that the process of evaluation and re-enrolment would take six to eight weeks.[24] At the same time, the New Zealand Electoral Commission verified that this was indeed the case and then clarified what would happen next. There would be an interim period when it checked the actual status of the party's membership, then provided public notice of United Future's membership application and invitation of comments, then provide the applicant party's leadership with an opportunity to respond to the comments and then decide whether to refuse or approve the application from United Future[25][26] On 30 July 2013, the New Zealand Electoral Commission requested input pending United Future's ultimate re-registration [27]

On 13 August 2013 the electoral commission accepted United Future's re-registration.[28]

Electoral results (2002–2014)

Election candidates nominated (electorate/list) seats won party votes popular vote
2002[6] 63 / 60
8 / 120
135,918 6.69%
2005 62 / 57
3 / 121
60,860 2.67%
2008 51 / 30
1 / 122
20,497 0.87%
2011 20 / 17
1 / 121
13,443 0.60%
2014 11 / 11
1 / 121
4,533 0.22%

Former MPs

See also


  1. http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz/#
  2. "Constitution of United Future New Zealand" (PDF). Retrieved 8 June 2013. The name of the party shall be United Future New Zealand
  3. http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/mpp/parties/
  4. http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/mpp/mps/current/
  5. 1 2 3 Helen Tunnah (3 November 2004). "Art of compromise at coalition party conference". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  6. 1 2 "Official Count Results -- Overall Status". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  7. "No police probe into Chal error". Television New Zealand. 19 August 2002. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  8. "Outdoor Recreation splits from United Future". The New Zealand Herald. 27 March 2006. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  9. Section 59 Crimes Act Repeal
  10. Tait, Maggie (16 May 2007). "United Future MP quits party over smacking bill". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  11. UnitedFuture unveils new logo
  12. "Dunne rebrands United Future after Christian faction split". The New Zealand Herald. 3 September 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  13. Dominion Post. 15 April 2008 page A2
  14. "Key's Government". The New Zealand Herald. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  15. "Economically Right, socially Left". The Press. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  16. "Key gives Dunne clear run at Ohariu". The Dominion Post (Wellington). 22 August 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  17. "Dunne does deal to fight RNZ sale". The Dominion Post (Wellington). 5 December 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  18. "UnitedFuture unveils new logo". Scoop.co.nz. 13 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
  19. "Cancellation of United Future". New Zealand Electoral Commission. 2013-05-31. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  20. "United Future request to be re-registered" Scoop.co.nz: 10.06.2013: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1306/S00179/unitedfuture-request-to-be-re-registered.htm
  21. "United Future applies for re-registration" 3 News: 10.06.2013: http://www.3news.co.nz/news/United-Future-applies-for-re-registration/tabid/1607/articleID/301116/Default.aspx
  22. http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1306/United_Future_Decision_19_06_13.pdf
  23. Hamish Rutherford: "Speaker backed in Dunne funding row" Dominion Post: 25.06.2013: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8838701/Speaker-backed-in-Dunne-funding-row
  24. Tracey Watkins: "UnitedFuture passes membership goal" Stuff.co.nz: 08.07.2013: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8891096/UnitedFuture-passes-membership-goal
  25. http://www.elections.org.nz/news-media/party-registration-process-underway
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 September 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  27. http://www.elections.org.nz/news-media/application-register-political-party-1
  28. http://www.3news.co.nz/Dunnes-party-re-registered/tabid/1607/articleID/308772/Default.aspx
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