Less than a week out from this year’s general election, ACT leader David Seymour and eight of his party’s candidates swung into east Auckland to share their message of less regulation, the success of charter schools, and the need for a smarter response to Covid-19.
Seymour addressed an audience of about 100 people at Pakuranga United Rugby Club on Sunday.
He covered a wide range of subjects during his hour-long talk including the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, jobs and the economy, the environment, energy, healthcare, law and order, education and voluntary euthanasia, among others.
Before speaking to the crowd, Seymour talked to the Times about how things look for his party heading into the general election.
ACT registered eight per cent support in the party vote in recent political polls.
It would have 11 MPs if that level of support is maintained on polling day, including its 10th ranked Botany candidate Damien Smith, who joined Seymour at the public meeting.
“We’re humbled so many people, according to the polls, want ACT to work for them,” Seymour said.
“We’re going to campaign up to the final whistle and hopefully we’ll end up representing a lot of people.
“At this point New Zealand needs to change because the world is changing around us.
“I think our team of independent voices holding everyone accountable will be really critical in that process.”
Seymour says the Government’s current approach to dealing with Covid-19 isn’t sustainable.
The country can’t afford to “lock ourselves down and borrow to paper over the cracks,” he said.
“We need to maintain elimination [of Covid] without more lockdowns and we have to safely reconnect with the world. We’ve got a plan to pay down debt.
“People are saying, ‘look, we want politicians to live within the same means as everyone else’.
“Just about everyone has had to reduce their budget but politicians continue to spend. They know it’s not sustainable.”
Despite the impact Covid is having on the economy, Seymour says there’s a “cautious optimism” in New Zealand.
It could present a “great opportunity” for the country if only people are prepared to seize it, he said.
“We’ve got to make it easier to develop your property, to get foreign investment and new technologies.
“We can’t make it harder. We are constantly regulating and making it harder.
“People say, ‘my business has survived and I can bring it back, but not if you make me pay for an extra five days’ sick pay’.
“‘Or if you make me as a landlord even more liable for other people’s problems, and if you actually want to raise taxes on me, meaning if I do get through all the other challenges I’ll be worse off’.”
Asked what his message is to east Auckland voters specifically, Seymour said his party’s infrastructure policy includes a plan to “finally and properly connect the east with the rest of Auckland”.
“It doesn’t prescribe any particular road because politicians promising particular roads has been half the problem.
“We need to take the politics out of infrastructure.
“We need to get to a point where we have 30-year commitments between central and local government to do specific projects and woe betide any politician who tears it up.
“This is an electorate and region of hardworking taxpayers who want to hear how we get on top of public health and repay the debt.”