ACT hands out condoms while saying poor people shouldn't have kids
David Seymour says it's just a coincidence he sent his social media followers a photograph of an ACT-branded condom on the same day his deputy leader said poor people shouldn't have babies.
The ACT leader sent the image via Snapchat and Twitter, with the message, "Be safe kids." The condom wrapper had a sticker saying, "Helping people keep more of what they make - Vote ACT."
Earlier on Wednesday, newly elected ACT deputy Beth Houlbrooke said on her Facebook page "parents who cannot afford to have children should not be having them". She was responding to Labour's new $60 a week 'baby bonus' policy.
- ACT says people who can't afford children shouldn't have them
- Labour rules out tax cuts, promises cash for families with children
Mr Seymour told Newshub the two events were "totally unrelated".
"The youth wing have been [handing out condoms] at least since the early 2000s. It's an old ACT on Campus gag around promoting safer sex, but also getting the party's messages across to students. For some reason, they've found if you attach it to a condom you're more likely to get your message across.
"Whereas Beth's comments with respect to Labour's policy were because Labour released a policy. The events aren't related."
Mr Seymour said it was "very unlikely that politicians, let alone youth politicians, can organise a gag that quickly".
In backing up Ms Houlbrooke's controversial statement, Mr Seymour suggested "reversing tobacco tax hikes" would do more to alleviate child poverty than a new benefit.
He told Newshub in the last five years, the increases in tax on cigarettes have "totally wiped out that $25 increase in benefit the Government brought in", as well as "a substantial part of the increase in minimum wages".
He also said Ministry of Health data shows smoking rates dropped only 2 percent over that same time period.
"We know that it's not working because the Government is collecting more and more tax revenue. If people were quitting, you'd expect the overall amount of revenue the Government collects to go down."
Mr Seymour said Ministry of Health statistics showed low-income earners spend more money on tobacco than higher earners.
"If [the tax] was working, you'd expect more people to smoke in wealthier suburbs and fewer people to smoke in poor suburbs - but actually, we see the opposite. It's just a tax that takes money out of the poorest households and has bugger all effect on smoking rates."