Monday, November 17, 2008

The third agreement

I've finally got round to reading National's confidence and supply agreement with United Future [PDF]. Because he's a one-MP party, and was so eager to crawl into bed with National from the outset, Peter Dunne gets few gains. He gets to retain his outside Cabinet positions of Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister of Health, and his pet project, the Families Commission. He gets promises to use the health system to direct more public money into private pockets by contracting operations out to the private sector (something National was keen on anyway) and to use PPPs for roads "such as the Transmission Gully highway" (ditto). He gets a Big Game Hunting Council for the gun nuts. And, most interestingly, he gets support for an income splitting bill to select committee, but not necessarily any further. These are small gains, but ones Dunne can feel proud of; for a small party leader, he's been a quiet achiever, and his willingness to cooperate with anyone has seen him having quite an influence over the years.

He also makes a stab at stealing Winston's Super Gold Card. Which means we can expect to see United Future reinvent itself as the centre liberal immigrant Christian gun nut sensible pensioner party forthwith.

As for the strings, he's agreed to support the implementation of National's manifesto, and is subject to the same "we tell you about it, we outvote you, so you must support it" bullshit as ACT. But this is unlikely to rankle much - Dunne is a cooperative guy, and National's policies are more to his liking anyway (he did, after all, support Roger Douglas in the 80's - something we should never forget). Interestingly, the agreement includes the same "cabinet manual" provision on Ministerial conduct and standards seen in the Maori Party agreement, which means the question is not why the Maori Party has such a clause, but why ACT doesn't. Is there something Rodney should be telling us...?