12 Aug 2018

Seymour wants Māori seats abolished

4:48 pm on 12 August 2018

ACT leader David Seymour Party has told his party's annual conference he wants to abolish the Māori seats and reduce the number of MPs.

David Seymour at the 2018 ACT Party conference

David Seymour speaking to people at the 2018 ACT Party conference today. Photo: RNZ / Matthew Theunissen

Mr Seymour told his party's conference in Remuera today that the economy was being "strangled by red tape and bureaucracy".

"How is it that we have a Minister for Māori Development, a Minister for Treaty Negotiations and a Minister for Crown-Māori relations?

"Now I think it's very important that we resolve past grievances, but it's very difficult to do when you've got three overlapping individuals all theoretically responsible for doing this," he said.

Mr Seymour told party faithful there was simply no place for one group of people to be treated differently under the law.

Speaking to media after the conference, he said the Māori seats had reached their used-by date.

"We now have 27 Māori MPs in Parliament - Māori are actually over-represented in Parliament - and the seven Māori MPs have been hopeless," he said.

Mr Seymour denied that the move was race-baiting.

"We're not not race-baiting anyone at all, we're saying that Māori are more than capable of being elected to Parliament without special seats."

Mr Seymour accused the Labour-led government of infantilising people perfectly capable of looking after themselves.

And he said he hoped to introduce legislation to reduce the size of Parliament from 120 MPs to 100, and also cut the number of ministers in government.

Mr Seymour said two decades of growth in the size of government had not delivered better outcomes for New Zealand.

He said the country needed smaller, smarter government.

Under ACT's policy, the number of government ministers would be reduced from the current 31 to 20.

The policy would also require all list candidates to stand in an electorate.

New name, brand on agenda at conference

Mr Seymour said yesterday a name change and a brand re-launch was on the agenda today.

He said some members thought the name lacked clarity, but others worried a re-brand was too risky.

"There are some members who say that the name is a detraction, and doesn't have a clear enough meaning.

"And there other people who say 'at least people know the name, and renaming an organisation is the most dangerous manoeuvre you can perform in marketing."