|Deputy Leader||Beth Houlbrooke|
|Founder||Roger Douglas and Derek Quigley|
|Student wing||Young ACT|
|Slogan||Act for Freedom |
|MPs in the House of Representatives|
ACT New Zealand, usually known as ACT , is a right-wing, classical-liberal political party in New Zealand. According to former party leader Rodney Hide, ACT 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".
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. An associate of Douglas, Richard Prebble served as party leader from 1996 to 2004. Under Prebble's leadership the party held nine seats in Parliament. Rodney Hide served as leader from 2004 to 2011. ACT was briefly led by formerNational Party leader and Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash for the 2011 general election, after which the party caucus was reduced to one seat.
ACT gave support to the Fifth National Government from 2008 to 2017. The party's current leader and only member of Parliament is David Seymour. During the 2017 general election, ACT kept its sole seat in Epsom and received 0.5% of the popular vote.
ACT states that it adheres to classical liberal, small government and laissez-faire principles coupled with what the party considers as a high regard for individual freedom and personal responsibility. ACT sets out its values:
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. Under previous leader Rodney Hide, ACT New Zealand had primarily focused on two main policy areas: taxation and crime.
At the 2011 general election, 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. 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:
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.
ACT 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". 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." In February 2016, ACT deleted this climate change policy from their website and ACT Party Leader David Seymour attacked the Green Party for doing "bugger all for the environment".
The party has shifted to a more classical liberal stance under current leader David Seymour, whereas it embraced a mix of liberal and conservative populist policies under former leaders Richard Prebble and Rodney Hide.
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.
In the 2008 New Zealand general election, 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 election). The combination allowed the party five MPs in total.
In addition, the National Party won the most seats overall, forming a minority government, the Fifth National Government of New Zealand, with the support of ACT as well as the M?ori 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.
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.
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. Brash promised to focus the party on controlling government debt, equality between M?ori and non-M?ori, and rethinking the Emissions Trading Scheme, with a target of getting 15 percent of the party vote in the next election.
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.3 News also obtained copies of the recording suggesting the two politicians were discussing issues related to ACT New Zealand's leadership.
In the 2011 New Zealand general election, ACT fielded 55 list candidates, starting with new leader Don Brash, Catherine Isaac, Don Nicolson, John Banks, David Seymour and Chris Simmons. 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. 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. 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.
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 M?ori Party, providing the coalition with confidence and supply.
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. Seymour took over as party leader on 3 October 2014.
Wang resigned as deputy leader on 9 July 2017, the same day ACT released its party list; Beth Houlbrooke was announced as his replacement.
|Election||Candidates nominated||Seats won||Votes||Vote share %||Position[A]||Government/Opposition|
|2008||58||61||85,496||3.65%||4th||Supported Fifth National Government|
|^A Ranked by number of seats, then by number of votes as a tie-breaker.|
New Zealand's right-wing ACT Party campaigned at the 1996 election on the slogan, 'Values. Not politics'.
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.