UN gives Jacinda Ardern backing in bid to take Manus refugees

The United Nation's are urging Australia to accept the PM's offer to take 150 refugees. Source: 1 NEWS



United Future's demise 'sad but understandable' - Peter Dunne

United Future's former long-time leader Peter Dunne says the end of the party is "sad, but understandable".

A letter sent out to members this week said the party's leadership had voted to disband after it received just 0.1 per cent of the vote in this year's general election.

The centrist party had survived on the back of an electoral deal in Ohariu between Mr Dunne and the National Party - but Mr Dunne's resignation this year, sparked by poor poll numbers - meant it failed to return to Parliament.

His successor, Damian Light, last night confirmed the party's demise.

"This decision has not been made lightly and has been debated at length," he said.

However, the motion was passed unanimously at the weekend's annual general meeting in Auckland.

It had become clear the party was not capable of reaching the 5 per cent threshold to re-enter Parliament, Mr Light said.

Mr Dunne - who held the Ohariu seat from 1984 until 2017 - has told 1 NEWS he's sad but thinks it was an understandable decision by United Future.

"And in the context of not having a seat in Parliament anymore, probably it was going to be a bit uphill for them to make a comeback as they were. So altogether not surprised," he said.

We've been part of governments for the last 15 years, so I think that's a pretty solid achievement - Peter Dunne, former United Future leader

Mr Dunne wasn't at the meeting but said if he was, "I think I would probably have said look, it's time to take stock. Is this the right vehicle still?  Does it need to be rebranded or does it need to be taken apart and rebuilt? So I think from what I gather they were the sorts of issues that were canvassed and I'd have certainly raised them had I been there".

United Future was the product of a merger between the centrist United New Zealand party and the conservative Future New Zealand party for the 2002 election.

It won eight seats that year but its support dwindled to a single seat by 2008. Mr Dunne was its only MP since then.

"We've been part of governments for the last 15 years, so I think that's a pretty solid achievement," he said today. 

Mr Dunne says changes need to be made to MMP to ensure smaller parties have more of a shot of making it into Parliament. 

"The one thing that worries me about this election was the fact that all of the minor parties - ACT, the Maori Party, United Future - got squeezed very badly. We're returning to First Past the Post by stealth and I think that's not what people had in mind when they voted for MMP," he said. 

Meanwhile, Mr Light says he is personally interested in staying in politics and has floated the idea of joining other parties or starting a new one.

The party's former leader says being part of governments for the last 15 years is a pretty solid achievement. Source: 1 NEWS

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Govt won't force schools to scrap National Standards

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins says while National Standards will be scrapped by the new government, schools will not be forced to abandon the system to adopt the new one put in place.

When questioned by National's Nikki Kaye in Parliament today, Mr Hipkins was resolute that the new government would indeed follow through with its promise to get rid of National Standards in schools.

"The new government intends to honour the commitments made by the Labour Party the Green Party and NZ First to scrap National Standards and replace them with a requirement for schools to report progress to parents against all levels of the New Zealand curriculum.

"A timetable for that is yet to be confirmed by the cabinet," Mr Hipkins said.

When asked a follow up question by Ms Kaye as to whether schools that want to keep National Standards be forced to shift to a new system by the government, Mr Hipkins simply replied "no".

This answer drew some surprised reactions from the opposition, before Ms Kaye pressed on to try and nail down a timeline for National Standards to be replaced.

"We have a timeline we are just yet to sign off on it," Mr Hipkins said.

The Minister of Education also says any system put in place will still require regular reporting to parents at least twice a year.

In a statement released shortly after question time Ms Kaye accused the government of creating confusion for parents around National Standards.

"In the last couple of weeks the Minister has said that National Standards will be gone very quickly, however today in Question Time he admitted he is still yet to sign off the timeline.

"The Minister has created further confusion today by stating that no school will be forced to scrap National Standards, which leads us to believe he is advocating for multiple systems of reporting," she said.

Mr Hipkins has yet to respond to this latest statement.