Act New Zealand leader Jamie Whyte (left) and Epsom
candidate David Seymour in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by
Two electorates - Epsom and Te Tai Tokerau - have the
ability to decide the election result.
Political editor Dene Mackenzie talks to Act New Zealand
Epsom candidate David Seymour about the weight of
David Seymour is under no illusions how pivotal his role is
in the September 20 election.
As Act New Zealand's Epsom candidate, if he wins, he can
possibly take another two MPs into Parliament with him - on
current polling - and provide either coalition support of
cross-bench support for National.
If he fails to retain the seat Act has held since 2005, Mr
Seymour will not get into Parliament, as he is not on the Act
list, and Prime Minister John Key might struggle to find a
suitable coalition partner he can rely upon for voting
support in the House.
In Te Tai Tokerau, Mana Party MP Hone Harawira needs to
retain his seat from what is expected to be a strong
challenge by Labour candidate Kelvin Davis. If Mr Harawira
does not win his seat, all the money Internet Party backer
Kim Dotcom has poured into the party will be for nothing.
Mr Seymour and Act president Jamie Whyte were in Dunedin
yesterday attending the Scenic South branch annual
In an interview, Mr Seymour said he did feel the weight of
responsibility but needed to focus on what he could control.
''I hope the prime minister endorses me and says he will vote
for me. Epsom voters have voted for Act under three different
scenarios but it is impossible to enforce any sort of deal.
Ballots in New Zealand are secret and sacrosanct.''
In 2008 and 2001, Mr Key had very public ''cups of tea'' with
former Epsom MPs Rodney Hide and John Banks.
Mr Seymour said it was unlikely there would be any
beverage-based gestures at this election.
So far, he has knocked on 8500 homes in Epsom and was still
finding people who had not had a politician visit for 21
National Party MP Paul Goldsmith had sent a letter to Epsom
voters telling them he was concentrating on securing
National's list vote in the electorate, opening up the chance
for Mr Seymour to retain the seat for Act.
Of those Mr Seymour had talked to in Epsom, about 5% were Act
supporters but between 30% to 35% of them were National
voters who understood MMP. They realised it was in National's
interest to return Act to Parliament through Epsom while
ticking National's party vote, he said.
So far, Don Nicolson has been selected as Act's
Clutha-Southland candidate. Act would also have candidates in
Dunedin South and Dunedin North.
The three main policies Act would campaign on were law and
order, lower tax rates and stopping people having to spend an
absurd amount of money on housing, Mr Seymour said.
Following on from its success of ''three strikes'' for
criminals, Act was proposing three years in prison for three
burglaries. Burglaries were rife in parts of New Zealand, he
''The issue is: what's the point of catching someone if they
get let out to keep on doing it?''Mr Seymour also took issue
with the policy announcements which indicated politicians
could pick winners in business.
Act would change KiwiSaver and Working for Families
contributions and review paying pensions at 65. The
Government spending money on business was even worse than
subsidising the reasonably well-off.
''Businesses are there to make a profit. All companies have
to pay higher taxes when they succeed so the minister comes
along and gives money to those which are not successful.
''If you knew what the next big thing was going to be, would
you be doing it or would you be in Parliament?''
Asked about the worst-case scenario if he did not win Epsom,
Mr Seymour said there had always been a party in New Zealand
with Act's socially liberal policies and those policies would
remain intact no matter what the result.