ACT New Zealand

ACT New Zealand, usually known as ACT (/ˈækt/), is a right-wing, classical-liberal political party in New Zealand.[3][1] 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".[5]

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. It was briefly led by former National Party leader and Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash for the 2011 general election.

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 gained 0.5% of the popular vote.[6]

ACT New Zealand
PresidentRuwan Premathilaka
LeaderDavid Seymour
Deputy LeaderBeth Houlbrooke
FounderRoger Douglas and Derek Quigley
Headquarters27 Gillies Avenue,
Newmarket, Auckland
Student wingYoung ACT
IdeologyClassical liberalism[1][2]
Political positionRight-wing[3][4]
International affiliationNone
ColoursYellow and blue
MPs in the House of Representatives
1 / 120


ACT bases its philosophy on individual freedom and on personal responsibility.[7] ACT sets out its values:

  • 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.[8]


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.[9] 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.[10] 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[11]
  • 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.[12]

The Act Party's current position on climate change is that there is no warming trend in New Zealand.[13] 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".[13] 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."[14] 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".[15]

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.[16]



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.[17]

1996 election

In the 1996 election, ACT fielded 56 list candidates.[18] Richard Prebble won the Wellington Central electorate[18] and with 6.10% of the vote, the party was eligible for seven list MPs.[19]

1999 election

In the 1999 election, ACT obtained 7.04% of the party vote, making it eligible for nine list MPs.[20]

2002 election

In the 2002 election, ACT obtained 7.14% of the party vote, making it eligible for nine list MPs.[21]

2005 election

In the 2005 election, ACT obtained 1.51% of the party vote, and hence had 1 list MP and 1 electorate MP.[22]

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.[23]

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 Māori 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.[24]


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.[25]

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.[26] 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.[9]

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.[27][28] 3 News also obtained copies of the recording suggesting the two politicians were discussing issues related to ACT New Zealand's leadership.[27]

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.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31][32] 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.[33]

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 Māori Party, providing the coalition with confidence and supply.

2014 election

ACT Selection Announcement for Leader and Epsom- Seymour & Whyte
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. Seymour took over as party leader on 3 October 2014.[34][35]

2017 election

Wang resigned as deputy leader on 9 July 2017, the same day ACT released its party list; Beth Houlbrooke was announced as his replacement.[36]

The Party List had 39 candidates, none of whom were elected.[37] Party leader David Seymour was re-elected in the Epsom electorate, giving the party its only seat.[6]

Electoral results

Election Candidates nominated Seats won Votes Vote share % Position[A] Government/Opposition
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[21] 56 60
9 / 120
145,078 7.14% 4th
2005 56 59
2 / 121
34,469 1.50% 7th
2008 58 61
5 / 122
85,496 3.65% 4th Supported Fifth National Government
2011 50 55
1 / 121
23,889 1.07% 7th
2014 39 41
1 / 121
16,689 0.69% 6th
2017 36 39
1 / 120
13,075 0.50% 5th Crossbenches
^A Ranked by number of seats, then by number of votes as a tie-breaker.



Deputy Leader

Parliamentary leader



  • David Schnauer (1999–2000)
  • Rodney Hide (2000–2001)
  • Vince Ashworth (2001–2004)
  • John Ormond (2004–2006)
  • Trevor Loudon (2006–2008)
  • Michael Crozier (2008–2009)
  • Dave Moore (2009–2010)
  • Bruce Haycock (2010–2014)
  • Beth Houlbrooke (2014–2016)
  • Heather Anderson (2016–2017)
  • Michaela Draper (2017–2018)
  • Beth Houlbrooke (2018–present)

Elected representatives

Current Members of Parliament

Former Members of Parliament

See also


  1. ^ a b Boston, Jonathan (2003). New Zealand Votes: The General Election of 2002. Victoria University Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780864734686. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Speech - Our classical liberal tribe". ACT New Zealand. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Norris, Pippa (2005). Radical Right: Voters and Parties in the Electoral Market. Cambridge University Press. p. 285. ISBN 9781139446426. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  4. ^ Levine, Stephen (20 June 2012). "'Political values - Values and political change". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 February 2017. New Zealand’s right-wing ACT Party campaigned at the 1996 election on the slogan, ‘Values. Not politics’.
  5. ^ Rodney Hide Archived 20 September 2006 at, "Speech to ACT Auckland Regional Conference, 30 July 2006"
  6. ^ a b "2017 General Election - Official Result". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  7. ^ ACT's Pledge To New Zealand, reported on 19 May 2008
  8. ^ "ACT Policy at a Glance". 5 Jan 2007. Archived from the original on 5 January 2007.
  9. ^ a b O'Sullivan, Fran (30 April 2011). "Coup aside, bold Brash must deliver on gamble". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  10. ^ "ACT Taxation Policy". Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2009.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ Taylor, Kevin; NZPA (26 June 2003). "Barnett celebrates 'historic moment' with prostitution bill". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  13. ^ a b "ACT Climate Change Policy" (PDF). 6 October 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 May 2014.
  14. ^ Hide, Rodney (3 September 2008). "Hide: Emissions Trading Bill". Press Release ACT Party Speech to Parliament. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  15. ^ Cooke, Henry (27 February 2016). "Coup ACT deletes climate change policy from their website". Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  16. ^ "ACT's battle for significance". Newsroom. 4 October 2017.
  17. ^ Curtin, Jennifer; Miller, Raymond (16 November 2012). "Political parties - Small parties under MMP". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Part III - Party Lists of Successful Registered Parties" (PDF). Electoral Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  19. ^ "Part I: Summary of Party List and Electorate Candidate Seats" (PDF). New Zealand Chief Electoral Office. 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  20. ^ "Election Results 1999: Summary of Overall Results". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  21. ^ a b "Official Count Results -- Overall Status". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  22. ^ "Election Results 2005: Official Count Results -- Overall Status". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  23. ^ "Chief Electoral Office: Official Count results: Overall status".
  24. ^ "Key's Government". The New Zealand Herald. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  25. ^ Kay, Martin (27 February 2010). "Leader warns ACT's hardliners". Dominion Post.
  26. ^ "Act accepts Brash as leader". The New Zealand Herald. 30 April 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  27. ^ a b Wilson, Peter (16 November 2011). "Key may face more teapot tape accusations". 3 News. New Zealand. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  28. ^ Armstrong, John (16 November 2011). "'Teapot tape' could nail lid to ACT coffin". The New Zealand Herald. New Zealand. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 October 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ Chief Electoral Office: Official Count results: Overall status.
  31. ^ "Don Brash interview announcing resignation as ACT party leader". 26 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  32. ^ "John Banks' comments on Don Brash's resignation". 27 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  33. ^ "John Banks' comments on ACT Party brand". 28 November 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  34. ^ Vance, Andrea (3 October 2014). "ACT's Jamie Whyte quits as leader". Stuff. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  35. ^ "David Seymour Accepts Act Leadership". Scoop (Press release). ACT New Zealand. 3 October 2014.
  36. ^ Small, Vernon (9 July 2017). "ACT party list prompts resignation of deputy leader Kenneth Wang". Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  37. ^ "2017 GENERAL ELECTION PARTY LISTS". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  38. ^ "John Thompson". ACT New Zealand. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  39. ^ "ACT says prisoners could earn time off by learning". radionz. Retrieved 8 February 2017.

External links

Andrew Falloon

Andrew Hamilton Falloon (born 1983) is a New Zealand politician and Member of Parliament in the House of Representatives for the National Party.

David Garrett (politician)

David Garrett (born 1957) is a lawyer and former member of the New Zealand House of Representatives. He entered parliament at the 2008 general election as a list MP for ACT New Zealand, having been ranked fifth on that party's list. He was ACT's spokesman on law and order until he resigned from the party on 17 September 2010. On 23 September 2010, he resigned from Parliament, following revelations that he had fraudulently obtained a passport in the name of a dead infant. The passport falsification offence occurred over twenty five years previously, in 1984.

David Seymour (politician)

David Breen Seymour (born 24 June 1983) is the Epsom electorate MP, and leader of ACT New Zealand. Seymour has previously worked in public policy in Canada. In November 2015, Seymour was named the Trans Tasman 2015 Politician Of The Year.

Deborah Coddington

Deborah Coddington (born 5 February 1953) is a New Zealand journalist and former ACT New Zealand politician.

Garry Mallett

Garry B. Mallett is a New Zealand politician. He was the fourth President of ACT New Zealand. As of 2010 he resides in Hamilton, New Zealand, and is a former owner-operator of a branch of Les Mills International there.

Gerry Eckhoff

Gerrard Mortland "Gerry" Eckhoff farms sheep and beef in the high country near Roxburgh, Central Otago. He is a former New Zealand politician, having served as an ACT New Zealand Member of Parliament.

Heather Roy

Heather Roy (born 5 March 1964), is a former New Zealand politician who served as an ACT Member of Parliament from 2002 until 2011.

From 2006 until 17 August 2010, Roy was ACT's Deputy Leader. Following the signing of the National–ACT Supply and Confidence Agreement after the 2008 general election she was appointed as Minister (outside Cabinet) of Consumer Affairs, as well as Associate Minister of Defence and Associate Minister of Education. On 17 August 2010, Roy was replaced as Deputy Leader by first term ACT MP John Boscawen who took over her primary Ministerial role. In June 2011, Roy announced that she would retire at the 2011 general election.

Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894

The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894 was a piece of industrial relations legislation passed by the Parliament of New Zealand in 1894. Enacted by the Liberal Government of New Zealand, it was the world's first compulsory system of state arbitration. It gave legal recognition to unions and enabled them to take disputes to a Conciliation Board, consisting of members elected by employers and workers. If the Board's decision was unsatisfactory to either side, an appeal could be made to the Arbitration Court, consisting of a Supreme Court judge and two assessors, one elected by employers' associations and another by unions. The 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand stated that: "After some 70 years of operation, the industrial conciliation and arbitration system has become a firmly accepted – perhaps even a traditional – way of determining minimum wage rates and handling industrial disputes. It has been subject to many criticisms from time to time, and occasionally to heavier sectional attacks, but no suggestion for its abolition has ever succeeded in gaining any significant measure of support from the employers' and workers' organisations... or from the community generally." The Act remained in force until 1973, but the essential structure it established was current until the Fourth National Government introduced the Employment Contracts Act 1991

Jamie Whyte

Jamie Whyte is a New Zealand politician who is a former leader of ACT New Zealand, a free market political party of New Zealand, and unsuccessfully contested the Pakuranga electorate in the 2014 general election. At the election, Whyte held the first position on the party list, but Act did not achieve enough party votes to secure any list seats. Soon after the 2014 general election, he resigned from the leadership of ACT.Whyte is a former philosophy lecturer, currency trader and management consultant. He has written books and newspaper columns about reasoning and politics.

Jo Giles

Joanne May Giles (29 November 1950 – 22 February 2011) was a New Zealand television presenter and former representative sportswoman. She represented the country in pistol shooting at the 1997 Oceanian Championships in Adelaide, and the 2000 World Cup in Sydney. She was one of New Zealand's first woman jockeys, and competed in motorsport and Rock 'n Roll competitions.Jo Giles was a candidate for ACT New Zealand in the 2005 general election. She formed a local body political party "Christchurch City Vision" and was a mayoral candidate in the 2007 Christchurch local body election. With 14,454 votes, Giles came third after Bob Parker (47,033 votes) and Megan Woods (32,821 votes) in the election contested by ten candidates.Jo Giles was later a TV presenter for the regional broadcaster Canterbury Television (CTV), with her programme "Shopping with Jo".

On 11 March 2011 police confirmed that she was one of the victims of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake in the CTV Building. She had four children; Anna, Sam, Liv and James.

John Boscawen

John Spencer Boscawen (born c.1957) is a former ACT New Zealand member of the New Zealand House of Representatives and as of May 2011, ACT's Parliamentary Leader and former Minister of Consumer Affairs of New Zealand. He came to parliament in the 2008 general election as a list MP, having been ranked fourth. Before entering parliament he was best known for his campaign against the Electoral Finance Act. He sat on the Finance and Expenditure, Commerce, and Parliamentary Service select committees, and is ACT's spokesperson for a range of issues including Housing, Transport, Energy and Economic Development.In January 2013 he became the president of the ACT Party. On 2 February 2014, after unsuccessfully running for ACT Leader, he relinquished the role of president to allow classical liberal philosopher Jamie Whyte to become ACT Leader and David Seymour to become the party's new Epsom candidate.

Ken Shirley

Kenneth Lex Shirley (born 12 August 1950), generally called Ken Shirley, is a former New Zealand politician. He was a member of the ACT New Zealand party, although was previously a member and Cabinet minister of the Labour Party.

Kenneth Wang

Kenneth Xiaoxuan Wang (Chinese: 王小选) (born 1955) is a former Deputy Leader of the ACT New Zealand party. He previously served as member of Parliament to replace Donna Awatere Huata, who was expelled from Parliament in November 2004.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatū Taonga (MCH) is the public-service department of the New Zealand government charged with advising the government on policies and issues involving the arts, culture, built heritage, sport and recreation, and broadcasting sectors, and participating in functions that advance or promote those sectors.

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The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 is a New Zealand drug control law that classifies drugs into three classes, or schedules, based on their projected risk of serious harm. In December 2018, the Labour-led Coalition Government passed a law permitting the used of medical cannabis for terminally ill patients.

Muriel Newman

Muriel Newman (born 6 April 1950) is a former member of the New Zealand Parliament for the right-wing ACT New Zealand party and a former deputy leader of the party.

Owen Jennings

Owen Jennings is a former New Zealand politician. He was a Member of Parliament from 1996 to 2002, representing the ACT New Zealand party.

Richard Prebble

Richard William Prebble, (born 7 February 1948), was for many years a member of the New Zealand Parliament. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he joined the newly formed ACT New Zealand party under Roger Douglas in 1996, becoming its leader from 1996–2004.

Stephen Franks

Stephen Franks (born 1950) in Wellington, New Zealand is a commercial lawyer. At one time, he was chairman and Partner of the large firm Chapman Tripp. Franks has been a member of two political parties. He previously served as a List MP for the right-wing ACT New Zealand (Association of Consumers and Taxpayers). He then stood unsuccessfully for the National Party for the 2008 General Election. Franks is also a media commentator and writer on legal and commercial topics; and is married with three daughters and a son in their 20s.

ACT New Zealand
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