Peter Dunne stands down
UPDATED: Prime Minister Bill English has thanked Mr Dunne for his contribution to the coalition government over the past nine years.
“Mr Dunne rang me earlier today to advise me of his decision to retire at this election,” Mr English says.
He says he respects Mr Dunne's decision and has backed National candidate Brett Hudson to win the seat.
“In the past three elections, National has won the party vote in Ohariu by a significant margin. We will now fight hard to win the seat as well as maximising our party vote in the electorate.”
But ACT leader David Seymour slammed Mr Dunne, saying “his back-and-forth tinkering on drugs left everyone unhappy.”
“He has been swept out by the tidal change against do-nothing politics.
“He had more years as minister than anyone in living history but did little to advance meaningful principles. He was enjoying ministerial cars and perks when the housing crisis began under Helen Clark, and while it continued through the current government.”
EARLIER: Veteran MP and United Future leader Peter Dunne is standing down after polling put him well behind Labour rival Greg O’Connor.
“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 Ōhāriu voters for a change of MP, which is unlikely to alter,” he said.
Mr Dunne says he will not stand and the political environment is “extremely volatile and unpredictable.”
Last week, a Colmar Brunton poll revealed Mr Dunne in second place behind Labour’s Greg O’Connor in Ohariu.
The poll puts Mr Dunne on 34% compared with Mr O’Connor’s 48%.
The same poll showed National well in front of Labour on the list vote, at 45% versus 35%.
“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 Ōhāriu,” he says.
Mr Dunne’s shock departure will come as a huge blow to the government, who had been relying on Mr Dunne’s support to form a government after the election.
He, and his party, United Future, have served as one of National’s coalition partners for nine years.
Last month, Prime Minister Bill English sent a clear message to the people of Ohariu to vote for Mr Dunne and not the National candidate Brett Hudson.
After last week’s Colmar Brunton poll revealed Mr Dunne was in trouble, an NBR poll showed that most readers thought National should have its candidate in Ohariu stand down to ensure Mr Dunne wins the seat.
In his statement, Mr Dunne backed Mr Hudson to win the seat, saying he “thanks and best wishes for the future go to Brett Hudson MP, National’s List MP based in Ōhāriu, for the support he has shown me throughout this year.”
“Ōhāriu has been a very large part of my life. I have lived continuously in the area for more than 40 years.
“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.”