Ahead of September’s election, ACT Party leader David Seymour says the future of his party will be at the cross-benches keeping all parties honest.
Mr Seymour told TVNZ1’s Q+A this morning his party could continue to bring different ideas into the political mix as the country eyed its post-pandemic recovery.
“We do need ACT to defend these free market policies and our freedoms generally," Mr Seymour said.
Mr Seymour said New Zealand needed to reduce its expenditure as it recovered from the pandemic, adding ACT would be releasing details on two policies this afternoon it would implement if elected - the first regarding mental health and the second about welfare.
He said the party would propose a reform of the welfare system to a similar model used in Canada where welfare would be taxed separately from general taxation and put into a public fund.
As to whether he’d introduce these changes by being in Government, he said ACT MPs were able to influence policy even when they weren’t ministers.
Mr Seymour said this could be seen with the End of Life Choice Bill, which went through the members’ bills process, or charter schools within a confidence and supply agreement with the National Party.
“I see ACT sitting on the cross-benches keeping all parties honest.”
His comments come as 1 NEWS’ latest Colmar Brunton poll showed ACT polling at three per cent. Assuming Mr Seymour retained his Epsom electorate seat, the party would have four MPs if it retained this level of support on election day.
It’s a contrast from Colmar Brunton polling where the party’s results before July last year were consistently below one per cent, and its lifeline in Parliament hinged on winning the Epsom seat.
Mr Seymour said his focus for the near future was “growing the ACT party so we have a liberal voice for sound public policy and critical thinking in our Parliament”.
Commenting on the recent difficulties of the National Party after revelations MP Hamish Walker released private information about New Zealand’s Covid-19 patients, he said National’s polling may be affected.
“But a week’s a long time in politics. Things can change next week.”
While he thought National's behaviour surrounding the leak "is completely unacceptable”, he said he still believed the Government had poor database procedures.
Mr Seymour said ACT would run its own campaign and continue targeting people who leaned centre-right and right. He said he was keeping options about coalition agreements open.
He said ACT would look to keep NZ First accountable should it form a coalition with National after the election.