28 Dec 2020

David Seymour reflects on 2020, euthanasia and free speech

6:49 pm on 28 December 2020

ACT leader David Seymour is promising to talk about the subjects he says other politicians shy away from in 2021.

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ACT leader David Seymour. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

In Seymour's end of year interview, he reflected on 2020 and laid out his plans for the party next year.

It has been a huge year for the party going from just one MP to 10 after the election.

During the election, Seymour made sure his party made headlines, jumping out of planes, then taking his campaign to the race track.

It was all topped off on election night with Seymour arriving at the Auckland Viaduct on a speed boat.

Seymour reflected on the moment as really cool, having seen the early results roll in.

"It actually is one of my best friend's boats and two of my other best friends were on the boat with me, who I went to high school with, so to be able to retain those roots in a moment I guess a political triumph is very, very special to me.

"People forget politicians are human at the end of the day."

However, Seymour said while he was pleased with the election result "politics is a means to an end."

He said his true highlight for 2020 was refreshing the online results of the End of Life Choice referendum while at Parliament.

"I think that has made us a more humane, caring, society and it has expanded the amount of freedom that New Zealanders can exercise under the law.

"That is much more important than getting more people into parliament, which is only useful if it allows you to do more useful stuff, to make New Zealand a better place through public policy," he said.

He noted his and other opposition MPs role will be much more challenging once Parliament returns in 2021.

His reasoning, the fewer parliamentary questions and seats in select committees than last term.

"It is going to require opposition MPs to work harder and smarter because there is fewer of us," he said.

For next year his focus is having honest conversations about issues that "other parties have avoided for too long."

"We risk losing our egalitarian, meritocratic identity as a country where anybody who applies themselves can actually make it.

"Increasingly we see a property market where it is almost near futile, very difficult for people who don't have very high incomes get into it, unless the previous generation of their family can help them," he said.

On firearm reform, Seymour said ACT's policies remain as "germane as ever."

He said there needed to be a separate specialist firearm licensing agency and a civil forfeiture regime for gangs.

"We are going to continue to make the point the people who are licensed firearm owners, who have passed the fit and proper tests when properly applied are not the problem."

He said the real problem was those who obtained firearms illegally.

On his prediction for 2021, Seymour didn't think Covid-19 was going anywhere.

"We said 2020 was the Covid year, but the Covid story is far from over."

Debt, productivity, the country's relationship with China and free speech will also be among the big issues of 2021, according to Seymour.

"There is going to be a big debate over free speech, because one of the things that defines the New Zealand psyche is that we are accepting of each other and we are allowed to speak our minds.

"The idea we are have somehow fallen in our culture and need to be corrected by the Human Rights Commission with the power to arrest people who say things deemed to be offensive in the tenor of the day is really quite terrifying."

There would be a major political battle over that idea, he said.

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