UPDATED 2:25PM: Peter Dunne is done with politics.
The United Future leader has announced he will not seek re-election in the upcoming General Election.
Dunne has been the MP for Ōhāriu for 33 years.
United Future Botany candidate Damian Light is number two on the party list and has called Dunne’s announcement “a real shame.”
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“He [Peter Dunne] is part of the reason I’m in politics so it’s a real shame.”
Light said “we always knew this day would come….but the party’s always been more than just Peter.
“We’ve got good policies and good candidates and we’ll continue campaigning.”
Light said while Dunne’s announcement has made the campaign harder in some ways, it’s “still the same election and same campaign.”
On being asked if he would step up as party leader, Light told the Times they hadn’t had those discussions yet.
“We don’t really have a precedent for this.”
Dunne said in a media statement that “the current political environment is extremely volatile and unpredictable.
“However, 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 the shift in voter sentiment is “quite at variance” with polling and other data he had seen throughout the year which he had based his earlier decision on to seek a 12th term as MP.
Dunne said that while he is “naturally extremely disappointed”, he recognises and understands the change and absolutely respects ” the electorate’s prerogative to feel that way.”