Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Dunne goes into battle for extra funding

MP argues Electoral Commission's processes and Parliament's rules apply to new parties.

Peter Dunne. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Peter Dunne. Photo / Mark Mitchell

United Future leader Peter Dunne will go into battle at the Electoral Commission today to try to persuade it to change its rules so he is not stripped of more than $185,000 a year in extra parliamentary funding for his party.

Mr Dunne stands to lose about $186,325 a year in funding if the party cannot re-register quickly and the Speaker decides it no longer qualifies for extra funding provided to registered parties.

Mr Dunne's salary will also be affected - he has already had a $61,500 salary cut from the $217,200 he earned as a minister after he resigned earlier this month for refusing to hand over emails with a Fairfax reporter to an inquiry investigating a leaked report on the GCSB.

His salary will drop by a further $13,900 if he is no longer considered a party leader down to the backbench MPs' salary of $141,800 a year.

Mr Dunne said he will meet the commission board today after it rejected United Future's first attempt to re-register and said it needed signed membership forms for at least 500 of its members, instead of the electronic membership database.

The Speaker has allowed six to eight weeks for United Future to re-register to retain its parliamentary funding.

Mr Dunne said the commission's processes and Parliament's rules catered for new parties rather than situations where an established party with an MP in Parliament de-registered and then re-registered soon after.

"In this case, there is a situation nobody could have foreseen, it has never occurred before so they probably need to look at how realistic their rules are in light of that situation. In our case, we have been registered since 1995. The notion that a party that has been around for 20 years de-registers and then within 12 days is back to re-registering is somehow a different party is fanciful."

He said the commission's stance of treating United Future as a new party at re-registration could also result in the party losing its funding. A rule change after Hone Harawira formed the Mana Party in 2011 means new parties formed during a parliamentary term only qualify for party funding if they have six or more MPs. Mr Dunne said it would be ridiculous to apply that to United Future's situation simply because the commission considered it was technically a new party.

Mr Dunne resigned as a minister on June 7 for refusing to hand over emails to an inquiry into a leak of a GCSB report to Fairfax reporter Andrea Vance. Mr Dunne has denied leaking the report.

Counting the cost

Parliamentary funding for Peter Dunne*:

1. As party leader and a minister
$100,000 for leadership funding
$22,000 party funding for research
$64,260 being an electorate MP
Total: $186,260 Same as Act leader John Banks.
$217,200 Personal base salary

2. As party leader but not a minister
$100,000 leadership funding
$64,320 for having a non-executive member in party caucus
$22,000 party funding for research
$64,260 for being an electorate MP
Total: $250,580 Same as Mana leader Hone Harawira
$155,700 Personal base salary

3. As an independent MP if United Future is no longer recognised by Parliament
$64,260 for electorate MP's support
Total: $64,260
$141,800 Personal base salary

* Funding is for MP/party support and additional to salary.

- NZ Herald

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