ACT takes the polity by storm with liberal policies and ideas

David Seymour, ACT Party Leader (INL Photos by Narendra Bedekar)

The largest ‘Third Party’ is navigating National towards the Beehive

Venkat Raman
Auckland, July 17, 2023

The rise of the ACT Party in recent years has been nothing short of a miracle and since 2021, it has been rated high in all opinion polls, staying consistently above 12% and if these are converted into seats, it will have the largest contingent of MPs in its history after October 14, 2023.

Unlike the previous years, ACT’s popularity is entirely due to its Leader David Seymour, who has tirelessly worked to bring the Party up since its debacles after the Rodney Hide-Don Brash-John Banks slide. Almost written off as a Party, it was rejuvenated by Mr Seymour and if the South Asian communities today look up to ACT as an important alternative to National, it tells you the fact that democracy is here to stay.

Democracy is indeed the core of ACT’s campaign in this general election, although many other factors such as the economy, law and order, health and education are also issues that the Party is taking to the people in seeking their votes.

Simon Court, Member of Parliament ACT (INL Photos by Narendra Bedekar)

Restoring Democracy

The Labour government’s push towards Co-Governance has left the average voter confused because there has been little debate or public discussion on its conception, pros and cons.

The difference of opinion is mainly on how New Zealand should navigate the choice between liberal democracy and co-government.

“That is because questioning co-government is often met with charges of racism,” Mr Seymour said and underscored the importance of the issue for his Party.

The ACT Party has released a Paper called ‘Our Democracy or Co-Government,’ which explains how it would restore universal human rights in New Zealand’s laws, public affairs and constitutional settings.

“We will pass legislation which will ensure that the principles of the Treaty are based on the actual Treaty, in contrast with the recent interpretation of obscure Treaty principles and inviting the people to ratify it. We will repeal recent laws, such as the Three Waters legislation, local government representation legislation, and elements of the Pae Ora legislation, that give different rights based on identity,” he said.

Mr Seymour said that ACT in government will reorient the public service towards a focus on equal opportunity according to robust statistical evidence instead of racial targeting, along with devolution and choice for all, as achieved with the recent Equity Index and Isolation Index policy for school funding, and charter schools among other devolutions.

“Too many of the current bad laws have occurred because there is no proper scrutiny or accountability. ACT has a plan to change this, lift the standard of lawmaking, and improve accountability in our democracy. ACT’s Democracy Policy would see three changes to our current democratic framework. Each of these changes aims to improve democratic accountability and deliver better laws for New Zealanders,” he said.

Dr Parmjeet Parmar ACT Party Candidate (INL Photos by Narendra Bedekar)

A Regulatory Standards Act

ACT has proposed a higher standard for new laws and regulations through the introduction of the Regulatory Standards Bill.

Mr Seymour said that the Bill if enacted, will lift the standard of lawmaking by requiring the government of the day to ensure all new laws and regulations are consistent with core principles of good lawmaking.

“It would require politicians and civil servants to ask and answer the right questions when making a law or regulation,” he said.

A Section of the audience at the Electionlink launch for ACT Party on July 17, 2023 (INL Photos by Narendra Bedekar)

The Rise, Fall and Re-Emergence

ACT is a right-wing classical liberal political party in New Zealand, promoting libertarianism with a prominent right-wing populist faction.

Young Act is an associated (unofficial) Student Wing.

The name is an acronym of Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, which was founded in 1993 by former National Party MP Derek Quigley and former Labour Party MP Roger Douglas, a figure of the New Right who served as Minister of Finance under the Fourth Labour Government.

Mr Douglas’ neoliberal economic policies, nicknamed Rogernomics, transformed the New economy from protectionism through extensive deregulation.

After Labour lost the 1990 election in a wipeout and its neoliberal faction lost influence, ACT was built mostly by Douglas’ former party supporters as a new political party for 1996.

The introduction of MMP gave minor parties a greatly increased chance of getting into Parliament. Former Labour MP Richard Prebble unexpectedly won the safe Labour seat of Wellington Central and served as ACT Party Leader from after the election until 2004. Under his leadership, the Party held nine seats in Parliament. Rodney Hide served as Leader from 2004 to 2011. ACT was briefly led by former National Party leader Don Brash for the 2011 election, after which the Party caucus was reduced to one seat.

ACT gave support to the Fifth National Government from 2008 to 2017.

Mr Seymour became the Party’s Leader in October 2014 and has been an elected MP of the Party since September 2014. During the 2017 election, ACT retained its sole seat in Epsom and received 0.5% of the party vote. Benefiting from the collapse of the National Party vote, ACT won 7.6% of the Party vote and 10 seats in the 2020 election, its best result since its founding.

ACT’s values are individual freedom, personal responsibility, doing the best for our natural environment and for a 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.

ACT states that it adheres to classical-liberal and small (or limited) government principles coupled with what the party considers as a high regard for individual freedom and personal responsibility.

The values of ACT are (1) Individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent freedoms and responsibilities (2) The proper purpose of government is to protect such freedoms and not to assume such responsibilities (3) All people should be equal before the law regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion or political belief (4) Freedom of expression is essential to a free society and must be promoted, protected and preserved without restriction other than for incitement, criminal nuisance or defamation and (5) Citizenship and permanent residency should be subject to applicants affirming New Zealand’s values.

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