UnitedFuture was formed in 2000, following a merger between the United and Future New Zealand Parties, as a modern centre party, based on broad liberal democratic traditions. Its foundation aim was to make New Zealand the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.
UnitedFuture’s leader is Hon Peter Dunne, an MP since 1984. Anthony Walton served as deputy leader from 2000 to 2004, and Judy Turner (an MP from 2002-2008) has been deputy leader since 2004.
At the 2002 General election, UnitedFuture won 8 seats, and entered a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Labour-led Government. As a consequence of that agreement, UnitedFuture was able to achieve a number of its key policies during the 2002-2005 term. A full list is attached at Appendix A, but the main highlights were:
- Establishment of the Families Commission, to ensure that all government legislation will be tested for its impact on families
- Extension of the paid parental leave scheme to for 14 weeks
- Increase in the parental income thresholds for student allowances, thereby widening eligibility for allowances for an estimated 36,000 students.
- An additional $250 million for mental health
- Establishment of a select committee inquiry into the status of the New Zealand constitution, including the place of the Treaty of Waitangi
- Establishment of an independent Gambling Commission to oversee gaming laws
- Abolition of capital gains tax on domestic share investments through managed funds
In 2005, UnitedFuture won 3 seats at the General Election, and renewed its Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour-led Government for the 2005-2008. During that time, its leader, Hon Peter Dunne, served as Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister of Health, and introduced a number of UnitedFuture initiatives as Government policy. The main highlights were:
- Business taxes were cut to 30 cents from 2008
- All charitable donations were made tax deductible, and a payroll giving scheme was introduced
- A Walking Access Commission was established to improve public access along rivers, lakes and foreshores
- The National Medicines Strategy, Medicines New Zealand, was developed and released in 2007
- A nationwide pest reduction strategy was developed, leading to an independent task force, established in May 2007, recommending the establishment of a Game Animal Council
- Legislation to allow parents raising dependent children to share their incomes for tax purposes (income splitting) was introduced, although not proceeded with by successive governments
After the 2008 General Election, UnitedFuture entered into a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the incoming National-led Government. Hon Peter Dunne retained his Ministerial positions and also became Associate Minister of Conservation. Since the start of 2014, he has been Minister of Internal Affairs, Associate Minister of Health, and Associate Minister of Conservation. UnitedFuture renewed its Confidence and Supply Agreement with the National-led Government after the 2014 General Election. Under its Confidence and Supply Agreements with National, UnitedFuture has:
- Overseen the development of the substantial across the board personal tax cuts introduced in 2010
- Introduced the Game Animal Council in 2013
- Undertaken the most major reform of the Child Support system since its implementation in 1991
- Ensured the national medicines strategy, Medicines New Zealand, has become the cornerstone of New Zealand’s approach to improving public access to and funding of pharmaceuticals
- Released a Government discussion paper on Flexible Superannuation
- Secured Government funding for, and the commencement of the construction of the Transmission Gully Highway, north of Wellington, ending almost 100 years of uncertainty
- Introduced the Psychoactive Substances Act, which promotes an innovative, world-first approach to the regulation and control of psychoactive substances
- Completed the first major review of New Zealand Fire Services since the 1940s, expected to lead to major changes by 2017
- Increased the duration of a New Zealand passport from 5 years to 10 years by late 2015
- Introduced the requirement for regular, independent, public reviews of New Zealand’s security and intelligence services
Throughout the years, UnitedFuture has been a constructive and stabilising partner for the government of the day, and, without compromising its principles, has been able to make a positive contribution to making New Zealand the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.