David Seymour on how ACT differs from National and why Greens should 'resist being hugged to death by Labour'

David Seymour has introduced his new caucus of 10 to Parliament, explaining how ACT will differ from National in Opposition by giving "constructive suggestions" to the Government. 

ACT scooped up 10 seats on election night meaning Seymour - who was ACT's sole MP over the last three years - will be joined by nine new MPs, including deputy leader Brooke van Velden and gun advocate Nicole McKee. 

Posing for a photo with his new caucus outside Parliament on Wednesday, Seymour told reporters he wished National well after its crushing election defeat, but said ACT will bring something fresh to Opposition. 

"Just as they strive to represent New Zealanders well in Opposition, we'll be doing that too and perhaps where there's a difference is you'll also see a lot of constructive suggestions for a better New Zealand as well," Seymour said. 

"I imagine it will be a very collegial relationship with the National Party," he said of ACT's relationship with National going forward. "There are areas where we agree but there are also very good reasons why we have different parties."

Seymour said ACT is sceptical about how much of a role the state should play. 

"I look at the election campaign and in many instances, it seemed National was trying to compete with Labour for the Government to tax more and do more. Somebody's got to be asking the question: is the hardworking taxpayers' dollar being used well?"

Labour won 64 seats on election night meaning it will be able to govern alone, without the need to partner with the Greens who picked up 10 seats or New Zealand First who won no seats and will not make it back to Parliament. 

Newshub revealed on Tuesday that Labour will not be forming a formal coalition with the Greens, and Seymour said that might be problematic because some Green MPs could bring ministerial experience. 

ACT's new caucus being led to Parliament by leader David Seymour.
ACT's new caucus being led to Parliament by leader David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

"I think the Greens' bargaining power is that they've got some competent people that can fill Labour's skill shortage. But ultimately, politics is about establishing a minimum winning coalition. Labour have that alone with 64 votes, perhaps 65 after the specials," Seymour said. 

"The Greens will be there to make up the numbers and I know what that situation's like from the previous Parliament, where people said 'why don't you negotiate?' and I said 'they don't need the numbers so there's no point in doing it'.

"If I was the Green Party I would resist the urge to be hugged to death by Labour but it looks like they're going to fall for it and that's their problem."

Seymour said there are NZ First MPs such as Ron Mark and Tracey Martin with ministerial experience who will be missed in Government. He also said Labour will need Green co-leader James Shaw's experience. 

"I would say that the Greens would be far too nervous to say goodbye to their staff and their ministerial salaries and Labour's skill shortage made worse by the loss of the safe pair of hands in Ron Mark and Tracey Martin will require them to need James Shaw."

ACT leader David Seymour with deputy Brooke van Velden to his left and gun advocate Nicole McKee to his right.
ACT leader David Seymour with deputy Brooke van Velden to his left and gun advocate Nicole McKee to his right. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Seymour was asked what the ideal outcome of Labour's negotiations with the Greens would be. 

"To be really honest, it's all the same - the policy direction doesn't change much," he said. "Our view is that our job is to hold whoever the ministers are accountable and then also propose better ideas."

ACT's new caucus includes van Velden, who led behind-the-scenes work to get the End of Life Choice Act across the line in Parliament. She will become ACT's whip and health spokesperson. 

It also includes McKee, a prominent gun advocate who led the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners. She said she wants to repeal parts of the gun law changes passed by the Government, but says not all of it needs to be scrapped. 

ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden and leader David Seymour.
ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden and leader David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

The caucus also includes Simon Court, an environmental engineer who will be the party's environment spokesperson; secondary teacher Chris Baillie; and James McDowall who owns several small businesses, including an immigration law firm.

"Everyone's taking on particular portfolios and everyone's got a bit of homework on how they're going to perform on those," Seymour said. 

"Our team are attending the parliamentary service introduction but we're also doing quite an extensive induction of our own over the next four weeks so we're going to be focused on how to do research, written parliamentary questions, OIAs, how to do a Private Members' Bill, so there will be quite a range of different training that we'll be doing."

ACT's full list of candidates can be viewed here. The first 10 will become MPs.