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ACT New Zealand


ACT New Zealand

ACT New Zealand
Leader David Seymour
President John Thompson
Founder Roger Douglas and Derek Quigley
Deputy Leader Kenneth Wang
Founded 1994
Headquarters 27 Gillies Avenue,
Newmarket, Auckland
Student wing ACT on Campus
Ideology Classical liberalism
Political position Right-wing
International affiliation None
Colours Yellow and blue
MPs in the House of Representatives
1 / 121
Politics of New Zealand
Political parties

ACT New Zealand is a free market political party in New Zealand. The party's current leader is David Seymour. It was briefly led by former National Party leader and Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash for the 2011 New Zealand general election. According to the former party leader Rodney Hide, the party stands for "individual freedom, personal responsibility, doing the best for our natural environment and for smaller, smarter government in its goals of a prosperous economy, a strong society, and a quality of life that is the envy of the world".[1]

The name comes from the initials of the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, founded in 1993 by Roger Douglas and Derek Quigley, from which the party grew in 1994. The party is commonly known by the acronym "ACT" and pronounced as a word rather than as initials.


  • Philosophy 1
    • Policies 1.1
  • History 2
    • Formation 2.1
    • 1996 election 2.2
    • 1999 election 2.3
    • 2002 election 2.4
    • 2005 election 2.5
    • 2008 election 2.6
    • 2008–2011 2.7
    • 2011 election 2.8
    • 2014 election 2.9
  • Electoral results 3
  • Leadership 4
    • Leader 4.1
    • Deputy Leader 4.2
    • Parliamentary leader 4.3
    • President 4.4
    • Vice-President 4.5
  • Elected representatives 5
    • Former Members of Parliament 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


ACT bases its philosophy on individual freedom and on personal responsibility.[2] ACT states its principles as:[3]

  • That individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent freedoms and responsibilities
  • That the proper purpose of government is to protect such freedoms and not to assume such responsibilities.


Former leader Don Brash promised to focus the party on controlling government debt, equality among all New Zealanders, and rethinking the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.[4] Under previous leader Rodney Hide, ACT New Zealand had primarily focused on two main policy areas: taxation and crime.

At the New Zealand general election, 2011, ACT advocated lowering tax rates and also supported something approaching a flat tax, in which tax rates would not be graduated based on wealth or income, so every taxpayer would pay the same proportion of their income in tax. The flat tax rate that ACT proposed would be approximately 15% with no tax on the first $25,000 for those who opt out of Government accident, sickness and healthcare cover.[5] Aligned to the lower tax proposal, ACT also wants to reduce or remove some Government programmes which it sees as unnecessary and wasteful and to increase self-reliance by encouraging individuals to take responsibility to pay for services traditionally paid for by Government.

Other policies ACT canvassed include:

  • Re-instating private prisons; allowing private firms to free up police for "Zero Tolerance" policing; speeding up courts[6]
  • Welfare reforms similar to those instituted by the United States in the mid-1990s, based primarily on the reforms first undertaken in Wisconsin
  • A greater spend on defence with closer strategic alliances with the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom
  • Re-introducing interest on student loans

Members of ACT's caucus in parliament voted 5 to 4 in favour of the 2004 Civil Unions legislation which gave the option of legal recognition to (among others) same-sex couples. A majority also supported the legalisation of brothels by the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.[7]

The Act Party's current position on climate change is that there is no warming trend in New Zealand.[8] The ACT Party went into the 2008 general election with a policy that in part stated "New Zealand is not warming" and that their policy goal was to ensure "That no New Zealand government will ever impose needless and unjustified taxation or regulation on its citizens in a misguided attempt to reduce global warming or become a world leader in carbon neutrality".[9] In September 2008, ACT Party Leader Rodney Hide stated "that the entire climate change - global warming hypothesis is a hoax, that the data and the hypothesis do not hold together, that Al Gore is a phoney and a fraud on this issue, and that the emissions trading scheme is a worldwide scam and swindle."[10]



The name comes from the initials of the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, founded in 1993 by Roger Douglas and Derek Quigley. From this, they formed ACT New Zealand in the following year as a political party.[11]

1996 election

In the 1996 election, ACT fielded 56 list candidates.[12] Richard Prebble won the Wellington Central electorate[12] and with 6.10% of the vote, the party was eligible for seven list MPs.[13]

1999 election

In the 1999 election, ACT obtained 7.04% of the party vote, making it eligible for nine list MPs.[14]

2002 election

In the 2002 election, ACT obtained 7.14% of the party vote, making it eligible for nine list MPs.[15]

2005 election

In the 2005 election, ACT obtained 1.51% of the party vote, and hence had 1 list MP and 1 electorate MP.[16]

2008 election

In the New Zealand general election, 2008, ACT fielded 61 list candidates, starting with Rodney Hide, Heather Roy, Sir Roger Douglas, John Boscawen, David Garrett and Hilary Calvert. The election marked an improvement in ACT's fortunes. Hide retained his Epsom seat and ACT's share of the party vote increased to 3.65% (up from the 1.5% gained in the 2005 elections). The combination allowed the party five MPs in total.[17]

In addition, the centre-right National Party won the most seats overall, forming a minority government, the so-called Fifth National Government of New Zealand, with the support of ACT as well as the Maori Party and United Future. John Key offered both Hide and Roy posts as Ministers outside Cabinet: Hide became Minister of Local Government, Minister for Regulatory Reform and Associate Minister of Commerce, while Roy became Minister of Consumer Affairs, Associate Minister of Defence and Associate Minister of Education.[18]


However, after 2008, some caucus MPs and organisational members became dissatisfied with ACT's coalition partner status and argued at ACT's national conference (27 February 2010) that there were insufficient fiscal responsibility policy gains for their party and that the National Party had resiled from its earlier commitment to the politics of fiscal responsibility over the course of the previous decade. Throughout 2009, there had been at least one reported ACT caucus coup attempt against Hide's leadership, believed to have been led by Deputy Leader Heather Roy and Roger Douglas. However, it faltered when Prime Minister Key supported Hide's retention and threatened a snap election. In addition, the party's polling of a lowly one to two percent in most opinion polls meant only Heather Roy might accompany Hide after any forthcoming general election, if Hide retained ACT's Epsom pivotal electorate seat.[19]

On 28 April 2011, Hide announced that he was resigning the ACT leadership in favour of former National Party leader and Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash who joined the party that morning. Brash's leadership was unanimously approved by the party board and parliamentary caucus on 30 April.[20] Brash promised to focus the party on controlling government debt, equality between Māori and non-Māori, and rethinking the Emissions Trading Scheme, with a target of getting 15 percent of the party vote in the next election.[4]

In November 2011, a recording of a conversation held between John Key and the former National Party member and former Mayor of Auckland City John Banks, who had been selected as the new ACT candidate in Epsom, was leaked to Herald on Sunday.[21][22] 3 News also obtained copies of the recording suggesting the two politicians were discussing issues related to ACT New Zealand's leadership.[21]

2011 election

In the New Zealand general election, 2011, ACT fielded 55 list candidates, starting with new leader Don Brash, Catherine Isaac, Don Nicolson, John Banks, David Seymour and Chris Simmons.[23] The election was a disappointment for ACT, with the party's worst election result since it began in 1996. John Banks retained the Epsom seat for ACT, however the 34.2% majority held by Rodney Hide was severely cut back to 6.3% as large numbers of Labour and Green voters in Epsom tactically split their vote and gave their electorate vote to the National candidate Paul Goldsmith. Nationwide, ACT received only 1.07% of the party vote, placing eighth out of 13 on party vote percentage.[24] As a result, ACT were only entitled to one seat in the new Parliament, filled by John Banks. Subsequently, Don Brash announced that he had stepped down as leader during his speech on election night.[25][26] Following the 2011 general election John Banks stated that he believed that the ACT brand "...just about had its use-by date..." and needed to be renamed and relaunched.[27]

Their previous partners, the New Zealand National Party, again won the most seats overall, and formed a minority government. The Fifth National Government of New Zealand had ACT support as well as that of United Future and the Maori Party, providing the coalition with confidence and supply.

2014 election

David Seymour and Jamie Whyte at the ACT selection announcement for Leader and Epsom in February 2014

At the ACT Board meeting of 2 February 2014, Jamie Whyte became the party's leader-elect, and David Seymour was made the ACT candidate for Epsom. Kenneth Wang was appointed deputy leader on 15 April 2014. In the September 2014 New Zealand general election, Seymour won his seat, and ACT moved from seventh to sixth place, despite a decline in their share of the popular vote.

Electoral results

Election Candidates nominated Seats won Votes Vote share % Position[A] ACT in
Electorate List
1996 65 56
8 / 120
126,442 6.10% 5th Crossbenches
1999 61 65
9 / 120
145,493 7.04% 4th Opposition
2002[15] 56 60
9 / 120
145,078 7.14% 4th Opposition
2005 56 59
2 / 121
34,469 1.50% 7th Opposition
2008 58 61
5 / 122
85,496 3.65% 4th In government
2011 50 55
1 / 121
23,889 1.07% 7th In government
2014 39 41
1 / 121
16,689 0.69% 6th In government
^A Ranked by number of seats, then by number of votes as a tie-breaker.


Elected representatives

Former Members of Parliament

See also


  1. ^ Rodney Hide, "Speech to ACT Auckland Regional Conference, 30 July 2006"
  2. ^ ACT's Pledge To New Zealand, reported on 19 May 2008
  3. ^ "ACT Policy at a Glance". 5 Jan 2007. Archived from the original on 5 Jan 2007. 
  4. ^ a b O'Sullivan, Fran (30 April 2011). "Coup aside, bold Brash must deliver on gamble".  
  5. ^ "ACT Taxation Policy". Retrieved 25 July 2009. 
  6. ^ "The 20 Point Plan - Policies in summary form". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2008. Action: Bring back private prisons - now best practice overseas. Let private firms free up cops for 'Zero Tolerance' policing. Speed up courts (eg. night courts) to reduce unfair delays. 
  7. ^ Taylor, Kevin; NZPA (26 June 2003). "Barnett celebrates 'historic moment' with prostitution bill". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2008. 
  8. ^ "ACT Climate Change Policy" (PDF). Retrieved 11 September 2009. 
  9. ^ "ACT Climate Change Policy.". Act Party. 2008. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  10. ^ Hide, Rodney (3 September 2008). "Hide: Emissions Trading Bill". Press Release ACT Party Speech to Parliament. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  11. ^ Curtin, Jennifer; Miller, Raymond (16 November 2012). "Political parties - Small parties under MMP".  
  12. ^ a b "Part III - Party Lists of Successful Registered Parties" (PDF). Electoral Commission. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "Part I: Summary of Party List and Electorate Candidate Seats" (PDF). New Zealand Chief Electoral Office. 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  14. ^ "Election Results 1999: Summary of Overall Results". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Official Count Results -- Overall Status". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  16. ^ "Election Results 2005: Official Count Results -- Overall Status". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "Chief Electoral Office: Official Count results: Overall status.". 
  18. ^ "Key's Government".  
  19. ^ Kay, Martin (27 February 2010). "Leader warns ACT's hardliners". Dominion Post. 
  20. ^ "Act accepts Brash as leader".  
  21. ^ a b Wilson, Peter (16 November 2011). "Key may face more teapot tape accusations".  
  22. ^ Armstrong, John (16 November 2011). Teapot tape' could nail lid to ACT coffin"'".  
  23. ^
  24. ^ Chief Electoral Office: Official Count results: Overall status.
  25. ^ "Don Brash interview announcing resignation as ACT party leader". 26 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  26. ^ "John Banks' comments on Don Brash's resignation". 27 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  27. ^ "John Banks' comments on ACT Party brand". 28 November 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 

External links

  • ACT New Zealand
  • ACT on Campus ACT's Youth Wing
  • ACT New Zealand at DMOZ
  • Is this the end of the road for Act? - New Zealand Herald article
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