Guns and 1080: ACT flirts with fringe issues as new supporters come on board

ACT launched its campaign on Sunday with promises of income insurance and controls on benefit spending.

But less traditional issues also got an airing - guns and 1080.

ACT says it's planning its most expensive campaign since 2005. It's gunning for $1 million in donations to bolster its numbers in Parliament. 

But the party is flirting with some fringe issues to help it get there. It's hammering an issue that's not very Epsom - guns, and this is attracting some new supporters.

"That certainly got me looking at them," one new ACT supporter told Newshub at the sold-out campaign launch in Auckland.

"We've been treated very badly," another said.

The party's picked up gun lobbyist Nicole McKee for its list - she's ranked third. Along with guns, she aired her views on 1080 today.

"After a 1080 drop the silence in our bush is deafening," McKee said. "I despise it."

But leader David Seymour denies pandering to the fringes.

"There's a lot of very reasonable New Zealanders who go out and hunt on the weekends and they don't think poisoning the conservation estate is the right thing to do," Seymour says.

The party hoping to increase ACT's numbers in Parliament from just one to as many as six MPs.

Newshub's poll in May had ACT on 1.8 percent. On that they'd get two MPs - but only if Seymour can win Epsom. There's no indication yet of a deal with National that would help win that electorate.

"No, and I don't think that's relevant, given where the polls are," Seymour says.

Along with McKee, the party's line-up includes 27-year-old deputy leader Brooke van Velden who worked on euthanasia reform.

"It will bring so much comfort to people in their last days," she says.

The party's also announced a renewed focus on social issues. ACT's new welfare policy would create an income insurance scheme - that would pay out 55 percent of a lost salary to a maximum of $30,000 over six months after losing a job.

"People from all walks of life are worried about losing their jobs and what they find is that the dole is not commensurate to the tax they pay," Seymour says.

ACT's mental health policy would take services off DHBs and have them centralised. And there's a focus on carefully opening up the border.

"There's about as many Taiwanese tourists as Australians, except they're richer, more polite and they have better English," Seymour says.

The challenge for ACT now is balancing their traditional base with their new support.