Dunne writes off Labour

Peter Dunne is unlikely to get a place in Cabinet should Labour win the November election, after he last night wrote off the party's chances.

Labour leader Phil Goff returned the sentiment this morning, saying the United Future leader was likely to be "irrelevant" after November 26.

Mr Dunne launched the verbal attack on Labour, who United Future previously supported in Government, last night while speaking at the annual Ohariu electorate meeting, saying Labour was not a viable alternative to National.

"Events of recent times bring the term 'cot case' to mind," he said.

"With no new faces on their front bench, they are essentially going into this election with the re-heated caucus that New Zealanders threw out three years ago, and as one would expect, they seem bereft of new ideas.

"It is not really possible to generate new ideas when you have yet to accept that your old ideas have been rejected."

Labour was not the only election contender in Mr Dunne's firing line, with ACT, Hone Harawira, the Maori Party and Winston Peters also taking hits.

While Mr Harawira has likened new ACT leader Don Brash to Osama bin Laden, Mr Dunne compared Dr Brash to those who killed the terrorist.

"When I first turned my head to this speech, Rodney Hide was still leader of ACT and Osama bin Laden was still in ensconced in his Pakistani fortress," he said.

"They have both since met merciless fates, one at the hands of the US Navy Seals, and the other at the hands of a force considerably more scary.

"One is now a bloodied corpse; the other at the bottom of the sea."

Mr Harawira did not escape criticism, with Mr Dunne saying his departure from the Maori Party had shown what most had long suspected: "That he is undisciplined, uncouth and with a propensity to engage his mouth before his brain."

The Maori Party's reputation had been damaged by Mr Harawira's drawn out departure, and all bets were off as to how it might act during a second term in government, Mr Dunne said

"While it could never say so, the Maori Party has been prepared -- as I predicted it would this time last year -- to tolerate a watering down of its Whanau Ora plan, and compromises over the foreshore and seabed -- for now."

With regards to Mr Peters, Mr Dunne said he saluted National for ruling out working with the New Zealand First leader.

"The wink, the grin and a good deal of opportunistic fact-free scare-mongering should never again be enough for Winston Peters to re-enter a House that has been more honourable for his absence."

Responding today to Mr Dunne's comments, Mr Goff said it was foolish to write off Labour.

"Labour's been around for 95 years, it's got clear values, it's got clear principles and it will have very clear policies for this election and they'll be addressing concerns that New Zealanders have, mainstream New Zealanders," he said.

"I think Mr Dunne will be irrelevant at the next election, I don't think he'll be in Parliament."

Prime Minister John Key would not speculate on whether Mr Dunne would win his seat back.

"I've been round long enough to know that you don't take anyone for granted. A lot can change in politics in a week," he said.

"Whether the people of Ohariu want him as their MP, that's a matter for them, but as a minister and as a support partner he is effective, he's easy to deal with, he's user friendly."



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