Taxpayers’ Union surrogate election campaigning

A Taxpayers’ Union surrogate has mass mailed letters trying to stop people from voting for the Green party.

The TU claims to “represent the common interests of all taxpayers and to provide them with a voice in corridors of power”, but obviously they don’t represent the interests of all taxpayers. This campaign they are looking to me increasingly like political activists, and little more than a surrogate for the Act Party.

Connections between the TU and Act and National were detailed here: A web of connections between the ACT Party, Taxpayers’ Union and National Party

The TU recently a surrogate surrogate campaign directly targeting the Green Party – Taxpayers’ Union Launches Major Direct Mail Campaign Against Green Party’s Proposed Asset Tax

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is today launching the Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership to fight against the Green Party’s proposal to implement an asset tax.

Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership spokesperson Islay Aitchison says…

The website does have an authorisation statement:

Authorised by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union – for the Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership 

Islay Aitchison is listed on the TU ‘Our Team’ web page as “our part-time research officer”.

A letter from with Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership and with her signature has been mass mailed:

But there is no sign of the TU nor an authorisation statement on the letter, even though the letter would appear to be a form of (deceptive) election advertising.

From the Electoral Commission: What is election advertising?

An ‘election advertisement’ is an advertisement in any medium that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not vote for a:

– candidate
– party
– type of candidate or party the advertisement describes by referencing views they do or don’t hold.

All election advertisements must include a promoter statement. This rule applies at all times, not just during the regulated period.

Promoter statements must be clearly displayed in election advertisements. For audible election advertisements, the promoter statement must be as easy to hear as the rest of the advertisement.

Not including a promoter statement is an offence which could lead to a fine of up to $40,000.

If you put out advertising about a candidate, party or election issue, but are not a candidate or party yourself, you’re a third party promoter.

The Taxpayers’ Union is registered as a promoter for the 2020 General Election and Referendums, but not their surrogate campaign for home ownership.

I expect that someone will have brought the letter to the attention of the Electoral Commission.

There is also questions being asked about the mailing list used for the letter. The TU membership database is not likely to contain many potential Green voters.

From Martin @dannedaerd

Can confirm. And they’ve got the mailing list improperly – looks like they pulled a list from LINZ data, where you have to confirm you won’t use it for DM purposes.

The address I got mine from isn’t an address I’ve lived at and will not appear on any list – apart from ownership

I guess that will be checked out too, but nothing is likely to happen until well after the election.

Deterring people from voting for the Greens would potentially benefit National and ACT – if the Greens don’t make the 5% threshold (and Chloe Swarbrick doesn’t pull of a surprise win in Auckland Central) then the left loses a lot of votes, and forming a government would come down to Labour versus National+Act.

The TU has properly put an authorisation statement on this:

The TU are clearly ‘pay less tax’ activists, and that would obviously align them with National and in particular Act.

David Farrar is a founder of the Taxpayer’s Union. It’s been interesting to see his posts at Kiwiblog this campaign. He has been targeting Labour in a series of posts, the last one being Labour’s Failures Part 11 – Renewable Electricity.

Kiwiblog has also featured promotions for both the Taxpayers’ Union and the Act Party. Three consecutive posts on 5 and 6 October:

Also on Tuesday was a post promoting the Taxpayers’ Union Scorecard: Taxpayer Scorecard

This omitted the authorisation statement from the graphic:

So it looks like Farrar is advertising for the Taxpayers’ Union who are effectively advertising for ACT.

Yesterday on Kiwblog: Huge tax cuts in Australia with a comment from Farrar:

“Sadly we have a Government here that believes the only acceptable fiscal stimulus is them deciding to spend more money, not giving taxpayers more of their own money to spend.”

Curiously Farrar, who has had close connections to National, is hardly posting any sort of party promotions – since Saturday the only National directed posts are on specific candidates:

Auckland Central – it doesn’t matter whether the Labour or National candidate win, but it does matter to National and Act if Swarbrick wins for the Greens.

Also curiously, there are only two posts at Kiwiblog in August tagged with Judith Collins, one in September and none so far in October:

Farrar and the Taxpayers’ Union seem to be most interested in keeping the Greens out and getting Act in, but the way things are looking they are likely to be unsuccessful.

A web of connections between the ACT Party, Taxpayers’ Union and National Party

Ex ACT party researcher Grant McLachlan has posted what he knows about the ACT Party and it’s many political connections with people with National Party and also with the Taxpayers Union and other activist groups.

Astroturfs: Act Three of ‘Dirty Politics’

Artificial grassroots organisations – nicknamed ‘astroturfs’ – are designed to mask the sponsors of a message or organization so to give the impression that there is support from grassroots participants. Often, they help politicians to find and mobilize a sympathetic public and create the image of public consensus where there is none.

The story of astroturfs is a hot mess of money, cliques of right-wing schemers, and dog whistle politics.

Astroturf origins

The history of astroturfs in New Zealand is closely associated to the history of the Act Party.

The Association of Consumers and Taxpayers was formed in 1993 by former Labour minister Roger Douglas and former National minister Derek Quigley. It started as an astroturf but, in the new MMP environment, decided to form a political party called Act.

McLachlan then goes through history of the Act Party.

Fast forward to 2011 when ACT had five MPs, Rodney Hide resigned and Don Brash took over.

Despite many in Act knowing about David Garrett’s convictions for assault and using the identity of a dead child to obtain a false passport, when it surfaced in the media David Garrett resigned. Don Brash then challenged for the leadership and Garrett’s replacement, Hillary Calvert, gave Brash a narrow victory.

Brash claimed his motivation for the coup was Act and National’s lack of fiscal prudence. Soon after becoming leader, however, Brash and Ansell ran an advert criticising the ‘Maorification of Everything.’

Assisting Brash was former Act MP Stephen Franks and a junior solicitor in his firm, Jordan Williams. It was during the 2011 election that Jordan Williams fronted the ‘Vote For Change’ campaign to get rid of MMP. Jordan’s strategy revolved around uniting supporters of the main parties by stigmatising Winston Peters as the bogeyman of MMP.

The 2011 election was a disaster for Act. Don Brash was a list-only candidate, their support dropped to 1 percent, and John Banks won Epsom to become Act’s only MP. The party touting itself as ‘The Liberal Party’ was now led by one of National’s most conservative former ministers.

It was during this period that Nicky Hager received material which would become the basis for Dirty Politics. Practitioners included Jordan Williams and National Party pollster, David Farrar. In February 2013, they incorporated the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Farrar has well known connections to the National Party – see disclosure statement.

The Taxpayers’ Union promotes itself as a spending watchdog – WE CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER VALUE FOR MONEY FROM GOVERNMENT SPENDING – but they have always looked like a political activist group to me.

They have just had a lame complaint to Broadcasting Standards Authority ‘not upheld’ which targeted Labour Party advertising – NEW ZEALAND TAXPAYERS’ UNION INC AND MEDIAWORKS TV LTD – 2020-116 (22 SEPTEMBER 2020).

Jordan Williams was involved in a political hit job on Colin Craig and the Conservative party, along with Cameron Slater, that has resulted inn expensive defamation proceedings.

The idea of a taxpayer union wasn’t original. Canada had a Canadian Taxpayers Federation since 1990. Act politicos Peter McCaffrey and David Seymour spent years in Canada at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy analysing local and central government accountability.

Dirty Politics was published in August 2014. In September 2014, the founding chairman of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, John Bishop, posted an article titled ‘Taxpayers’ Union has attacked National more often than any other party.’ Since then, the organisation has attacked politicians from every political party except one: Act.

Bishop, a former TVNZ political editor, was the Act Party ‘Constituency Services Manager’, working in Parliament during Richard Prebble’s leadership. His job was to co-ordinate campaigns and tours from within Parliament. At the time, I was a researcher and ‘electorate agent.’

Bishop’s son, Chris Bishop, is currently National MP for Hutt South.

During Bishop’s tenure at Act, Prebble used Parliamentary Service funding to employ a disproportionate number of staff in its leader’s office, using the ‘out of Parliament’ budget meant for electorate agents to instead work in Parliament. A bogus electorate office was set up at Prebble’s private residence on Little Pipitea Street. Despite none of the staff ever working there, we were instructed to say that we did.

I was employed as a researcher in Parliament for 8 hours a week and 32 hours as an ‘out-of-Parliament’ electorate agent.

During the almost three years I worked for Act, I only worked three weeks out of Parliament, which was spent in Newmarket at the party’s head office shortly after that meeting at the bogus office. Following my return from Auckland, I resigned.

Other staff embroiled in this scam included Peter McCardle (who was also juggling elected roles on the District Health Board and Upper Hutt City Council) and Roger Styles (who was also elected to the Hutt City Council and became deputy mayor). Press secretaries included journalists David Young, David Hargreaves, and public relations commentator Trish Sherson.

Trish Sherson is sometimes used as aa political commentator by media – she was a Newshub post-debate panelist on Tuesday night.

Styles and McCardle used Parliamentary resources to research demographic trends of their constituencies. Discovering the ‘gentrification’ of the Hutt South electorate, Styles had ambitions of winning the electorate for National off Trevor Mallard.

John Bishop’s son, Chris, would eventually gain the candidacy in 2014 and win the seat in 2017. Chris’ work colleague at Phillip Morris Tobacco, Todd Barclay, entered Parliament at the same time.

So the claim here is that Act Party research led to National winning Hutt South.

Despite John Bishop’s track record with Act, Bishop went on to campaign for the Taxpayers’ Union, ridiculing politicians for double-dipping and misusing taxpayer and ratepayer money.

John Banks became swamped by scandal as Kim Dotcom testified that Banks didn’t declare a donation to his 2010 mayoralty campaign. When convicted, Banks resigned and Act found a new leader, Jamie Whyte. David Seymour ran for Epsom. Whyte argued that incest between consenting adults shouldn’t be illegal and later back-tracked. While Seymour won Epsom, Act support dropped to 0.69 percent.

Seymour initially failed to gain traction and Act floundered around 1 percent in support. National introduced young liberal candidates, including Rodney Hide’s former staffer, Andrew Falloon, and Hamish Walker replaced Todd Barclay.

After being disgraced in 2017 Barclay didn’t stand for re-election. Walker and Falloon were both exposed for poor behaviour this year and neither will stand again in their electorates.

Houlbrooke. You might remember that surname when a Louis Houlbrooke fronted a ‘lobby group’ called ‘Take Back the Clocks’ in 2019 to abolish daylight savings. Or during the 2017 election campaign when Act’s Deputy Leader Beth Houlbrooke said, “The fact is, parents who cannot afford to have children should not be having them.”

Beth is Louis’ mother. She rose from Act candidate in 2014, to vice president and party manager in the same year, to deputy leader for the 2017 election.

Louis got his start as Act’s social media co-ordinator and media liaison for the 2014 election, whilst president of Act’s youth wing. Following the election, he was David Seymour’s press secretary for the term.

Following the 2017 election, Beth remained Deputy Leader while Louis transferred to the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union and rose quickly to become their campaign manager.

Louis Holbrooke is still TU Campaign Mananger.

The Taxpayers’ Union strategy changed overnight. Their coffers swelled to an annual budget of $831,848.22 by the end of 2019 and nine paid staff.

Their ‘Our Team’ includes 15 people with various roles.

The Union was on a roll. They renamed their annual awards for the biggest wasters of public money after Shane Jones.

That looks clearly like political activist targeting.

The more that the Taxpayers’ Union attacked New Zealand First, the better David Seymour looked.

Targeting NZ First’s core voters, Act then surprised many members by giving gun lobbyists high list rankings.

Louis helped Beth and Phelan set up Facebook ‘community pages.’ While Act ran a ‘Freedom to Speak’ campaign against Jacinda Ardern’s proposals to censor hate speech, Beth and Phelan censored and blocked criticism and debate. When brought to the attention of Act, Seymour claimed the community pages were ‘private property.’

As president of Act’s youth wing, Louis campaigned against compulsory membership of student unions. Beth and Phelan, however, have both pushed for ‘Business Improvement Districts’ throughout Rodney…

…But none of these examples got a mention at the annual ‘Jonesie Awards’, held in Parliament’s Legislative Chamber. Instead, awards were given to Wellington Mayor Andy Foster for wasting $30,000 on a leadership course, Racing Minister Winston Peters for providing funding for two upgraded training facilities, and a lifetime achievement award to Transport and former Housing Minister Phil Twyford.

(For an event to be held in Parliament, it has to be sponsored by a Parliamentarian. Every ‘Jonesie Awards’ event has been sponsored by National MP Chris Penk, whose electorate includes the Rodney Ward.)

It looks like a web of interconnections between ACT, National and the Taxpayers Union.

With Act, nothing is as it seems. The protests by gun owners in the South Island were ‘attended’ by ‘Firearms Safety Specialist’ and third-ranked Act list candidate, Nicole McKee. The ‘grassroots’ protest, organized by local pistol and deerstalking clubs, was repeated elsewhere.

What is certain is that Act is about money. Several of Act’s major donors live in the Rodney Ward near the controversial Auckland Shooting Club at Makarau. There are strong Act links to that club. Maybe the media should be asking one member why Beth Houlbrooke was demoted? What was Beth’s position on the controversial club?

Act’s backers have mutated Astroturfs from a pressure group, to an attack weapon, to directly protecting the politicians they were indirectly meant to support, to having an unhealthy influence over a minor party. While they evolve, they still operate as dirty politics in plain sight.

This may be a distinction between ‘dirty politics’ and ‘Dirty Politics’, but there are a number of connections between ACT’s operations, the Taxpayers’ Union operations and National party interests.

McLachlan has followed up with another post.

Why we should have zero tolerance for Act

Sex, drugs, fraud and bullying. What the Act Party doesn’t want you to know this election.

He goes over a number of claims related to sexual harassment and drug abuse associated with the Act Party. Then:

Act now wants David Seymour to be perceived as a ‘fresh face’ and a clean slate. No he isn’t. He’s been around Act since I can remember.

I remember him as being good mates with disgraced former National MP Andrew Falloon when Falloon was Rodney Hide’s creepy staffer.

Seymour was then John Banks’ Ministerial Advisor while John Banks was being prosecuted.

Many who condoned the serious misconduct I’ve described are still active in the organisation. Seymour’s distancing from sexual harassment problems within Act’s youth wing is symptomatic of a party which places more importance on public perception rather than addressing the reality of its toxic culture.

But Act expects voters to have short memories. Seymour talks tough on ‘gangs’ when he and his party acted like one throughout its history. There are no signs that he will be any different as he tries to lure a new generation of voters.

Quite successfully it seems. Act are currently polling at 6-8%. National are still polling poorly so are unlikely to get to form a Government with Act, but if a sizeable ACT caucus gets established and doesn’t fly to bits they may be in a strong position to pull National and the country rightwards from 2023.

Judith Collins rules out NZ First, rules in ACT

National leader Judith Collins has already confirmed that National will not consider doing a governing deal with NZ First after the election, but has now strongly endorsed the ACT party and specifically David Seymour in the Epsom electorate.

ODT (NZH): Collins rules out working with NZ First

National leader Judith Collins appears to have ruled out working with NZ First after the election – and says Winston Peters and his party are probably on the way out anyway.

…Collins has slammed the door shut on the chances of reversing the decision not to work with NZ First.

“We have made that very plain as a caucus and as a party, and I know a lot of our party supporters and voters certainly wanted us to do that,” she said today.

“I’m pretty clear – the caucus has decided it. That’s the caucus view.”

“It’s really important to understand the caucus has said that they don’t want to do a deal with Winston Peters. There is no reason that I know that we are going to change that.”

Yesterday from Stuff: Judith Collins calls for Epsom voters to back ACT’s David Seymour

Judith Collins has explicitly asked voters in Epsom to back the ACT party’s David Seymour, sidelining her own finance spokesperson as part of a longstanding arrangement with the libertarian party.

Collins, the National leader, on Monday said she was asking voters in the Auckland electorate should to vote for Seymour for their electorate MP, saying she would “welcome him being part of a National-ACT Government”.

“I don’t need to have little cups of tea or anything, because everybody knows that David Seymour and I work very well together”

“I’m asking the people of Epsom”.

“I think it’s always important to be respectful of people and their votes, and I’m very, explicitly saying that I believe that a National-led Government is going to be best served with ACT as our partner.”

“I’m very happy to say that we want the party vote, please, in Epsom, please, and in this particular electorate you can give the first tick, for the electorate, to David Seymour.”

This was fairly obvious but at least this is explicit and open National support for Seymour in Epsom and for the ACT Party as a governing partner, far better than the charades and signalling of past elections.

National’s passive Epsom candidate since 2011 Paul Goldsmith said:

“It’s the party vote that counts. That’s my focus”.

He has always had to avoid campaigning for the electorate vote while seeking the party vote.

There has been reports that electorate polls show Seymour looks comfortable and should retain the seat.

Seymour, leader of the ACT party, said the media could focus on such endorsements, but he was “listening to the voters”.

“What they’re telling me is that the world has changed and we need a plan for a faster recovery with lower taxes and less debt,” he said in a statement provided by a spokesman.

Asked if Collins’ endorsement guaranteed ACT would work with National, Seymour said: “National is the only party ACT could work with right now.”

That’s stating the obvious. None of Labour, Greens or NZ First would consider doing a governing deal with ACT.

“We can’t work with a Labour Party that has the most disastrous public policy record in living memory.”

Seymour has feuded with Winston Peters through the term, who a couple of weeks ago challenged him to a fist fight – it was lame and never going to happen but Seymour has kept getting under Winston’s skin. It won’t help that ACT is getting double the support of NZ First in polls.

So as expected one option for the next Government is a two party National + ACT coalition. ACT are currently doing well in polls and should get several MPs in Parliament this time, but National are struggling, polling 20-30% behind Labour.

I think that is likely to close up a bit but the gap looks far to big to close for National unless there is some significant development, like Ardern resigning and Phil Twyford taking over the Labour leadership.

Covid excuse used to raise benefits but ACT reduction policy is nuts

Newshub: ACT’s Brooke van Velden calls for beneficiaries, public service workers to take pay cut

The ACT Party’s deputy leader is calling for public sector workers and beneficiaries to take a pay cut in order to help lower debt levels.

Brooke van Velden was laying out the party’s ‘Alternative Budget’ in an appearance on Newshub Nation on Saturday, and says ACT’s approach will help New Zealand recover from the economic fallout of COVID-19.

The party’s policy includes abolishing the winter energy payment, scrapping KiwiSaver subsidies and putting interest back on all student loans.

Van Velden says lowering New Zealand’s debt post-COVID-19 is important because it’s unknown when another event will happen that requires a large sum of money.

“There are two ways we can go about this recovery: we can have a debt recovery or we can have a growth recovery.”

ACT proposes public service employees should have their “over-inflated wages” cut by 20 percent, and benefits would be lowered back to pre-COVID levels.

Van Velden and Seymour may well be right. The Government has implemented a number of policies by stealth under cover of $50 billion Covid financial package.

The Government has previously defended it’s COVID-19 spending, with Finance Minister Grant Robertson saying it’s “fiscally and socially responsible” to have money set aside in the event of a second wave.

“We are sticking to our word on this. We are investing money where it is needed to respond to COVID-19, and we are setting aside a significant sum of money to be used as needed in the future,” he said in July.

There is no doubt majoe financial support was needed to try to minimise the adverse financial effects of Covid, but I think there are valid questions about a lot of the spending. Some of the spending announcements seem to have been opportunist policy financing of things that weren’t being addressed by the Government before the pandemic.

But Bagrie is probably also correct. Many beneficiaries have struggled for a long time on subsistence incomes. This has had significant adverse effects on the welbeing of families and children, and also on health, crime and education.

And substantially reducing benefits and wages now would be a huge risk given our precarious economic situation. I think that would be nuts.

It’s going to be a huge challenge for the next term Government to deal with the big increase in spending and debt, but slashing benefits and wages would be nuts in my opinion.

ACT Party – organised and more than one MP

David Seymour has been the sole representative in Parliament for the ACT Party for six years, but polls suggest he will be joined by several colleagues after this election. They look like fresh and young team, and they look organised, having already announced a number of policies.

Their biggest problem this election is not themselves but their only possible coalition partner, National, who look like a dated party and are very disorganised.

Seymour has been successful on his own but the party leadership will have wider appeal than a sole MP, with ex adviser Brooke van Veldon now deputy leader.

Brooke van Velden is ACT’s candidate for Wellington Central.

Brooke left the private sector to work behind the scenes in Parliament to pass the End of Life Choice Act. She is a highly effective operator who knows how to deliver real positive change in the corridors of power.

Brooke is qualified in international trade and economics and has been a factory worker and corporate affairs consultant. Her practical and political experience has given her a deep understanding of the economy and the effect big government policies and rushed laws have on businesses and individuals.

She switched from being a Green voter to an Act supporter while studying economics at university. The ability for free markets to lift countries from hardship was a revelation for her. She is also a committed social liberal, championing the right to autonomy over our own bodies.

They also have the ‘gun lobby’ on side with Council of Licenced Firearms Owners spokesperson Nicole McKee at number 3 on their list.

Nicole is ACT’s candidate for Rongotai

Nicole is a small business owner, who delivered firearms safety education in rural and isolated communities for the New Zealand Police. She also has a background in law, firearms component imports, and was the coordinator of the nation’s volunteer firearms safety instructors for the Mountain Safety Council and the spokesperson for the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners and its Fair and Reasonable Campaign.

ACT have already launched their anti-gang policy- see ACT policy targeting gangs and their proceeds.

In the weekend they announced two more policies:

Mental health and addiction services to empower New Zealanders

“A new approach to mental health and addiction will reduce bureaucracy, improve patient choice, and empower New Zealanders,” says ACT’s Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“We need an approach that will solve the big problems identified in the Government’s Mental Health Inquiry:

• Inequity of access and lack of choice
• Too much confusion and bureaucracy
• People having to navigate a web of agencies
• No whole-of-government approach
• Too much burden placed on primary healthcare providers who are not always well-equipped.

“The Government has established a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, but it does not have real power to improve choice or establish a clear, nationwide approach to tackling mental health and addiction.

“ACT would give the Commission the power to transform mental health and addiction services by taking the $2 billion per annum currently spent through the Ministry of Health and DHBs, and channelling it to providers and patients through an upgraded Commission.

“The Commission would be renamed Mental Health and Addiction New Zealand (MHANZ).

“MHANZ would not be a provider of services, but a world-class commissioning agency that assesses individual needs and contracts the best providers for a person’s therapy and care. It would put people at the heart of the system.

Fair, modern employment insurance for a post-Covid-19 world

ACT is proposing a fair, modern employment insurance scheme:

• Income tax rates remain unchanged but 0.55 percent of the tax paid would be allocated to a ring-fenced employment insurance fund.

• On the loss of employment, a taxpayer can claim 55 percent of their average weekly earnings over the previous 52 (or fewer) weeks. The maximum yearly payable amount is $60,000.

• Insurance can only be claimed for one week for each five weeks the person has worked, up to a maximum of 26 weeks per claim. Someone who has worked continuously for only one year could claim up to ten weeks’ employment insurance.

• Once a recipient has used up their employment insurance entitlement, they can move to Jobseeker Support and Electronic Income Management would apply. (Under Electronic Income Management, a benefit is issued on an electronic card and restrictions on alcohol, gambling, and tobacco expenditure apply.)

• Over time, the government would adjust the 0.55 percent levy so that the fund balances out over a four-year cycle. In a high unemployment year, the levy would increase. In a low unemployment year, taxpayers would benefit from a levy reduction.

• Those receiving employment insurance would be expected to look for work and report fortnightly on their preparedness to work and job application activity. In practice, recipients would want to get back to work instead of remaining on 55 per cent of their previous income.

“ACT’s employment insurance scheme would be fairer than the current system because people get paid out in proportion to what they pay in, rather than a flat benefit rate regardless of their outgoings or previous tax contributions.

RNZ: ACT leader uses campaign launch to slate government’s Covid-19 response

At the party’s campaign launch in Auckland, ACT president Tim Jago said membership had more than doubled in the last year.

“You’ve seen the polls, certainly 3 percent, nudging 4 percent and we’re hearing stories that the other parties have us at 5 percent,” Jago said.

“We were being written off little more than a year ago as a one-MP party unable to climb above 1 percent.

“We are the only parliamentary party that’s consistently over the past 12 months trended upwards.”

Jago told the crowd of 600 party faithful that they were aiming to get as high as 6 or 7 percent of the party vote, which would give ACT eight MPs.

ACT are targeting small demographics, obviously hoping to grow their vote. In recent polls they got 3.5% and 3.1%, which would be good for 3-4 MPs. ACT could benefit from National being in disarray and pick up support from, so they may get more MPs but fail to get into Government.

 

ACT policy targeting gangs and their proceeds

David Seymour has announced ACT Party policy that targets the criminal proceeds of gangs.

Newshub: Gangs targeted in ACT Party proposal, pledges to ‘hit them where it hurts’

Party leader David Seymour told Newshub Nation the policy was simple.

“If the police find illegal firearms and illegal activity by a gang, then they can take their assets because, at the moment, gangs are getting around the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act by having a large number of small operations,” Seymour told host Simon Shepherd. “We’re saying that if you have a firearm and you are dealing drugs and you are a gang, then the Crown can take your assets because, ultimately, these guys don’t care about going to jail.”

Gangs were using money and assets to recruit people and keep “feeding the disease”, he said.

Seymour said under the current Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act, police had to prove at least $30,000 worth of assets were involved before a seizure.

“What we’re saying is that if you’re a gang that’s breaking the law and you’ve got an illegal firearm onsite – we’re going for your assets straight away.

“This is a practical policy – it’s achievable and it would make a difference. Will it solve the whole problem? No. Will it get us going in the right direction with practical steps? Yes.”

ACT will hit the gangs where it hurts

“ACT will target the gangs by hitting them where it hurts – their pockets,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour and Firearms Spokesperson Nicole McKee.

“New Zealanders deserve to be safe and secure, but violent gangs are a scourge on our communities.

“Over the past two and a half years, the number of gang members has increased by a third.

“There’s been a 54 percent increase in the number of gang members being charged with firearms offences. That’s at least one gang member a day being charged with firearms offences.

“We’ve seen a clear escalation in behaviour from the gangs, with regular shootings using illegal firearms.

“The current approach to dealing with gangs and illegal firearms hasn’t worked.

“Neither the Government’s new gun legislation, nor the buyback, has made a difference to the number of illegal firearms in circulation.

“Locking people up gets them off the street, but the gangs don’t care if young prospects are sent to jail and just carry on operating in our communities.

“We need to get smarter. That means hitting the gangs where it hurts.

“If Police find illegal firearms at an unlawful, gang-run operation, we’ll seize their assets.

ACT will amend the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 (the Act) so that if a Police search finds:

  • an illegal operation (e.g. drug manufacturing for supply or money laundering), and
  • the unlawful possession of a firearm, and
  • a person who is either a gang member or is closely affiliated,

it can apply to the courts for an order to seize the operation’s assets.

Currently, Police must meet a number of tests before it can apply to the courts to seize assets under the Act.

That includes proving a link between illicit money and the purchasing of assets, and proof of drug manufacturing or money laundering at a value of more than $30,000.

Police often wait until the suspected value is much higher as an offence is then easier to prove.

“Under our proposal, if an illegal firearm is found in the possession of a known gang member at a property where an illegal operation is taking place, authorities will not be required to meet the current tests. The discovery of an illegal firearm can be used to fast-track the seizure of assets,” says Firearms Spokesperson Nicole McKee.

“ACT is going to go after the gangs and their guns by hitting them where it hurts.

“In the wake of our nation’s tragedy in Christchurch, the Government targeted the wrong group of New Zealanders by scapegoating law-abiding firearms owners. It should be going after the gangs.

“One illegal firearm in the hands of a gang is one too many. If Police find illegal firearms at an unlawful operation run by a gang, we’ll seize their assets.

“Under our proposal, gangs will either need to shut up shop, disarm, or have their assets seized.

“New Zealanders deserve to be safe and secure, but violent gangs are a scourge on our communities. ACT’s plan to get smarter in dealing with the gangs is a step towards safer communities.”

ACT have been improving in polls, getting between 1.8% and 3.5% with the last from Colmar Brunton at 3.1%, and if the get this sort of result in the election Seymour will have several MPs in with him. If National keep bungling then ACT may pick up even more support.

Seymour will also be on Q+A this morning and plans to announce more policy.

 

ACT Party list

The ACT Party have announced their list for this year’s election. The top twenty:

  1. David Seymour
  2. Brooke Van Velden
  3. Nicole McKee
  4. Chris Baillie
  5. Simon Court
  6. James McDowall
  7. Karen Chhour
  8. Mark Cameron
  9. Stephen Berry
  10.  Toni Severin
  11. Damien Smith
  12. Miles McConway
  13. Beth Houlbrooke
  14. Carmel Claridge
  15. Bruce Carley
  16. Cameron Luxton
  17. Grae O’Sullivan
  18. Myah Deedman
  19. David Seymour
  20. David King

Odd to see two David Seymours but #19 is a candidate from Whangarei.

Brooke Van Velden (who has been an adviser to Seymour before running for Parliament) is a good and obvious choice for #2. It looks like five of the top ten are male and female, which looks different for an ACT list.

Nicole McKee is the spokesperson for the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners and has been vocal in opposition to firearms law changes since the Christchurch mosque murders.

Beth Houlbrooke (“an award-winning businesswoman, former farmer, and Chair of the Rodney Local Board”) has been an ACT candidate before and is the only candidate currently featuring on the ACT website.

Going by recent polls there is a reasonable chance of the top few on that list to get into Parliament as long as the Epsom Seymour wins his electorate again, which seems very likely.

 

Young Act sexual harassment – members removed, investigation started

A follow up to Young Act acknowledge claims of sexual harassment from vice president – the vice president who resigned when going public on her claims is “pleased with the actions that are now being taken”.

Two Young Act members have been ‘removed’, and the Act Party president has appointed an employment lawyer to investigate and says “the allegations were being taken very seriously”.

 

Stuff: Young ACT members booted out, vice-president resigns over sexual harassment claims

The vice-president of Young ACT has resigned and two members of the youth wing have been kicked out amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Young Act president Felix Poole acknowledged the youth wing had failed Gammeter, saying it did not have a system in place to deal with complaints.

“It was our fault,” he said.

“There was hesitancy on the behalf of Young ACT to act because we had no system or guidelines in place.”

He said the offending had taken place online, and there were two further incidents, but did not elaborate.

Two members of Young ACT had been removed as a result, and it would be conducting its own investigation, as well as a possible independent inquiry.

The members had been blocked from Young ACT’s social media, and Poole said he did not think they would appeal the decision.

It was not calling in the police but would co-operate if they were brought in, he said.

RNZ: Young ACT to investigate sexual harassment of vice president

The Act Party has hired an employment lawyer to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations of misconduct within its youth wing.

Andrea Twaddle has been appointed by the party to investigate the claims of sexual harassment made by Gammeter.

ACT president Tim Jago said the party first became aware of Gammeter’s allegations last night.

Jago said the allegations were being taken very seriously.

“We will be providing Ms Gammeter with any support she requires,” he said.

MP and party leader David Seymour seems to be keeping a distance from this.

Newshub/Reid Research poll – February 2020

The first political poll of election year is of interest but doesn’t change much.

  • National 43.3% (down from 43.9)
  • Labour 42.5% (up from 41.6)
  • Greens 5.6% (down from 6.3)
  • NZ First 3.6% (down from 4.0)
  • ACT Party 1.8% (up from 1.4)

No surprises there, all margin of error movements.

On those numbers National/ACT are short of getting a majority but not far away and if NZ First miss the threshold it opens possibilities.

Labour+Greens are close to a two party majority of seats.

The others:

  • Maori Party 0.9% (up from 0.7)
  • New Conservative Party 0.7% (down from 1.0)
  • The Opportunities Party 0.6% (down from 1.1)

None of those parties look like getting anywhere near the 5% threshold. The Maori Party are going to contest seats to try to avoid needing the threshold.

Stated margin of error: 3.1%

Newshub: National and Labour neck-and-neck in new Newshub-Reid Research poll

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 38.7% (up from 38.4)
  • Simon Bridges 10.6% (up from 6.7)

Newshub poll: Simon Bridges breaks 10 percent as preferred Prime Minister

Polling period 23 January – 1 February, before Bridges ruled out NZ First from any coalition deals, and before Waitangi Day week.

Their last poll was in October 2019 – Newshub Reid Rese

Polling for this term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2020_New_Zealand_general_election

Last ACT annual conference?

ACT has just about disappeared from political sight. The name ‘ACT Party’ may be disappearing altogether. A name change is being considered at the party’s annual conference in Remuera today.

2018 ACT New Zealand – Annual Conference

“Freedom, Choice & Responsibility – Do they exist under this Government?”

The choices you make affect your future and those of the people you care for and support. ACT is the party of choice. The 2018 ACT Annual Conference is being held on Sunday 12 August in Auckland, and you are invited to attend. To answer the question – “Freedom of Choice & Responsibility – Does it exist under this Government?” – our speakers will focus on the economy, business and social reform; we guarantee you’ll be challenged!

  • Briar Lipson – Research Associate, The New Zealand Initiative
  • Lindsay Mitchell – Welfare Reformer
  • Matt Vickers – EOL Care campaigner, husband of the late Lucretia Seales

David Seymour will give the Leader’s Address at 1.00pm. It will be a thought-provoking and stimulating day for all who attend.

Whether the rest of the country will notice let alone find it stimulating is another thing.

According to Audrey Young one thing to be considered is a name change – David Seymour looking to take Act Party back to basics after years of failure

…one of the issues to be debated this weekend is whether to change the party name.

Seymour and president Ruwan Premathilaka are planning a relaunch of the party in March next year and Seymour is billing tomorrow’s conference in Auckland as “a pre-launch of the relaunch.”

The membership had been polled on the future of the party and they have held meetings throughout the country.

“What they have said is they are not angry. They don’t think we have been incompetent or stupid. They think, all things considered, we were pretty organised and campaigned okay.

“But equally they accept that what we have done had been a total failure and we are not going anywhere and therefore we need to do something completely different.”

There was a strong mandate to change the direction of the party, Seymour said.

The only controversial element was what to do about the name.

“If I had a vote for every person that says they like David, this or that policy but they would never vote for Act, I would probably be in Government.”

But will a name change make any difference?

If ACT change their name they are likely to remain approximately as unnoticed as they are now.

Seymour probably has a reasonable chance of remaining as the MP for Remuera, but it will take more than a name change to revive a dying political brand.

Successful politics is reliant on people. ACT need to get electable people more than involved, they need to get them active and noticed.

The reality of politics is that the media will only give them political oxygen if they have people deemed newsworthy. Sadly that doesn’t necessarily mean competent.

We have an enigma in New Zealand politics.

People need publicity if they are to succeed in politics. That means they need to be given significant media exposure, a reality despite the supposed promise of social media revolutions.

Media chose who they give attention to more based on how ‘newsworthy’ they are – but unfortunately in the modern political media era this usually means controversial, which usually means eccentric or appalling or rich, anything that feeds headlines and clicks.

It is unusual for the media to boost someone with genuine talent – as a media made politician Chloe Swarbrick is rare exception.  The voter jury is still undecided (or should be) on whether Jacinda Ardern’s media driven promotion to Prime Minister on whether she can deliver on the hype. Delivering a baby has been a massive distraction, and may make it harder for Ardern to succeed beyond getting ongoing fawning coverage.

Most people chosen by media to be promoted as political prospects turn out to be political failures, or at least disappointments. With media money speaks (or buys their attention and they do the speaking), but it doesn’t necessarily speak the right language to voters, as Kim Dotcom, Colin Craig and Gareth Morgan found out.

So ACT’s biggest challenge is not to apply a new label to a nearly dead party horse.

They need to attract candidates that attract both media attention and party votes.

Or a miracle.