ACT New Zealand

Last updated

ACT New Zealand
PresidentTim Jago
Leader David Seymour
Deputy LeaderBeth Houlbrooke
Founder Roger Douglas and Derek Quigley
Founded1994;26 years ago (1994)
Headquarters27 Gillies Avenue
Newmarket, Auckland
Student wing Young ACT
Ideology Classical liberalism [1] [2]
Right-libertarianism [3]
Political position Right-wing [3] [4]
International affiliationNone
Colours     Yellow
SloganAct for Freedom [5]
MPs in the House of Representatives
1 / 120

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". [6]


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 former National 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. [7]


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. [8] [3] 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. [10] 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. [11] 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. [13]

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". [14] 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." [15] 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". [16]

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. [17]


Older party logo ACT New Zealand.png
Older party logo


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. [18]

1996 election

In the 1996 election, ACT fielded 56 list candidates. [19] Richard Prebble won the Wellington Central electorate [19] and with 6.10% of the vote, the party was eligible for seven list MPs. [20]

1999 election

In the 1999 election, ACT obtained 7.04% of the party vote, making it eligible for nine list MPs. [21]

2002 election

In the 2002 election, ACT obtained 7.14% of the party vote, making it eligible for nine list MPs. [22]

2005 election

In the 2005 election, ACT obtained 1.51% of the party vote, and hence had 1 list MP and 1 electorate MP. [23]

2008 election

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. [24]

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. [25]


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. [26]

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. [27] 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. [10]

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. [28] [29] 3 News also obtained copies of the recording suggesting the two politicians were discussing issues related to ACT New Zealand's leadership. [28]

2011 election

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. [30] 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. [31] 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. [32] [33] 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. [34]

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

David Seymour and Jamie Whyte at the ACT selection announcement for Leader and Epsom in February 2014 ACT Selection Announcement for Leader and Epsom- Seymour & Whyte.jpg
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. [35] [36]

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. [37]

The Party List had 39 candidates, none of whom were elected. [38] Party leader David Seymour was re-elected in the Epsom electorate, giving the party its only seat. [7]

Electoral results

ElectionCandidates nominatedSeats wonVotesVote share %Position [A] Government/Opposition
1996 6556
8 / 120
1999 6165
9 / 120
2002 [22] 5660
9 / 120
2005 5659
2 / 121
2008 5861
5 / 122
85,4963.65%4thSupported Fifth National Government
2011 5055
1 / 121
2014 3941
1 / 121
2017 3639
1 / 120
^A Ranked by number of seats, then by number of votes as a tie-breaker.



Deputy leaders

Parliamentary leaders



  • 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

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  12. "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.
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  22. 1 2 "Official Count Results -- Overall Status". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
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