24 May 2021

Act leader confident 250,000 more people will support party by 2023

6:33 am on 24 May 2021

Off the back of its best-ever election result, the Act Party wants to double the number of its MPs in Parliament in 2023.

Act MPs on stage at the party's annual conference

Act MPs on stage at the party's annual conference Photo: RNZ/ Katie Scotcher

Hundreds of supporters gathered for the party's annual conference - Honest Conversations - in Auckland yesterday, where the success of last year's election was still very much front of mind.

Act received 7.6 percent of the vote, meaning leader David Seymour was joined by nine new MPs. It's the biggest caucus ACT has had since 2002, when it had nine MPs under leader Richard Prebble.

But after six years as a one man band, ACT was keen to prove the party is more than just its leader.

Its nine new MPs were front and centre at the rally, speaking to hundreds of supporters at length about law and order, infrastructure, housing and farming.

The party's firearms and justice spokesperson Nicole McKee also explained that the last seven months have been a "steep learning curve" for the caucus.

"From learning where to be, adjusting to the long hours, Standing Orders, Speakers' Rulings, what you can say, how you address people; right down to where you should do your knitting and where you possibly shouldn't," McKee said.

The party used the conference to focus on two policy areas - education and democracy.

ACT wants Parliament's terms to be extended to four years and in turn, the government to give control of select committees to Opposition parties.

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Act leader David Seymour says people from all political spectrums are considering supporting Act at the next election Photo: RNZ/ Katie Scotcher

It also wheeled out its latest take on performance pay for teachers - a $250 million fund used by principals to reward high-performing staff.

"The only way to get paid more as a teacher is to serve time. How depressing is that?" Seymour asked the crowd.

Serious investment in education was needed now to future proof the country, he added.

ACT Party president Tim Jago was focused on the future, too. Specifically 2023.

"What does election success in 2023 look like? Let me make it clear, getting our 10 MPs back into Parliament in 2023 is not the success measure we are looking for."

"We need to be big. By big I mean at least doubling our team of MPs," Jago said.

Plans for a multi-million dollar campaign were already underway, he added.

After the conference, Seymour told RNZ receiving 250,000 more votes at the next election was very achievable.

"We've just done a lot of research very recently. People are surprised 40 percent of people thinking about Act are currently National voters, we've got a lot of people from Labour ... we've got a lot of Māori, for instance, who may not be voting National but they actually have Nicole McKee's view of who speaks for Māori, not Rawiri Waititi's view of who speaks for Māori.

"You have people who have voted Labour on the back of Covid, but are now saying 'actually why are you giving money to people for free and nothing for civil servants?'

"So there's people from across the political spectrum that I think are interested in coming to Act."

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