‘We’ll be in Government’: ACT leader David Seymour
ACT leader David Seymour is confident of forming a coalition government with National after the 2023 election.
“We will be in Government,” he boldly told The Gisborne Herald during his Honest Conversations national tour which brought him and fellow ACT MP Nicole McKee to Gisborne.
ACT would increase its current 10 MPs by six, according to the most recent polls, and increases of that size for the next two years would see the party serving on the Treasury benches.
“Judith Collins may be the Leader of the Opposition but ACT is the leader of proposition,” (as in proposing ideas), Mr Seymour said.
He accepted the polls showed 65 percent of New Zealanders believed the country was “going in the right direction”, but that had been 70 percent a month before.
He said the 47 Honest Converstions meetings ACT had scheduled across the country were drawing large attendances (80 to 100) in small centres, despite it not being an election year, because of government policy. The Government appeared to be treating landlords like a terrorist group, the rural sector was facing an avalanche of regulations, employers were dealing with increasing costs and had difficulties finding staff, and many people felt the Government trusted the Mongrel Mob more than themselves.
Ms McKee said housing and the Resource Management Act (RMA) were other major concerns.
Mr Seymour said he was not happy with New Zealand's unemployment rate of around of 4.7 percent despite it being low by international standards.
He said 400,000 people were on welfare.
“If a person can work, they should.”
That was the stance of the first Labour Government, he said.
The Ardern Government had increased benefit levels “for people to stay at home” while employers were looking for Kiwi staff.
The country's Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) regime only allowed 10,000 people into New Zealand each month compared to the pre-Covid level of 600,000.
Many people, including those already working here, were unable to get visas.
“It's a regular issue raised at our (Honest Conversations) meetings,” said Mr Seymour.
“Where is the path to getting back to normal?
“Immigration New Zealand are basically having a holiday.
“They're supposed to help people immigrate.”
The party would replace the RMA and an Urban Development Act would significantly expand the ability of private property owners to build on their own land.
ACT was a property rights party, said Mr Seymour.
Housing policy included a GST sharing scheme which would share 50 percent of the GST revenue from building a new house with the local council that issued the consents.
That would incentivise councils to cover infrastructure costs.
Mr Seymour said Medsafe's approval of the AstraZenica vaccine this week showed the Government “was always reactive, never proactive in relation to Covid”.
“The approval was easy to anticipate, in fact it was late compared with the rest of the world.
“A proactive Government would be ready do order, distribute, and use, or not.
“This Government is not prepared, it's not a vaccine roll-out, it's a vaccine stroll out.”
ACT supported privately run MIQ facilities in hotels if owners, unlike the Government, ensured all staff and workers were vaccinated.
Everyone would be saliva-tested every two days.
Ms McKee, a vocal critic of the Government's gun control laws introduced after the mass mosque shootings in Christchurch, said she did not favour arming every police officer on the beat.
That would only escalate gun violence.
ACT would set and maintain police numbers at one per 500 New Zealanders.
The party was keen to break the cycle of second and third generation criminal offending.
Few of the increasing number of gang members were 501s from Australia, she said.
ACT would put the 8006 gang members who were on the national gang list on electronically monitored welfare spending.
That would prevent them from gambling and purchasing alcohol and drugs.
A gang injunction, imposed by the courts, would prevent gang members from activities such as being in a particular location or associating with particular people, she said.