NZ Election 2020: The rise of David Seymour and ACT

The ACT Party has come out as big winners of the 2020 election, amassing 10 MPs total in Parliament.

Leader David Seymour will be joined by first-time candidates deputy leader Brooke van Velden, Nicole McKee, Chris Baillie, Simon Court, James McDowall, Karen Chhour, Mark Cameron, Toni Severin and Damien Smith.

The party was founded in 1994. Following the 1996 election, it sent seven list MPs to Parliament and nine MPs following the 1999 and 2002 elections.

Support slipped for ACT in 2005 where it obtained just 1.51 percent of the party vote. It still sent two MPs to Parliament though.

It regained some of its support in the 2008 election and five MPs made it to Parliament, and alongside the Māori Party and United Future it supported National in government.

But since 2011, ACT has only had one MP in Parliament. Former MP John Banks represented the party from 2011 to 2014.

Seymour, who represents the Epsom electorate, had been the sole ACT MP since the 2014 election.

David Seymour with ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden.
David Seymour with ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden. Photo credit: Getty Images

During his six years in Parliament so far, he's advocated for the End of Life Choice Bill, a bill that allowed bars and rugby clubs to extend their alcohol trading hours and removing abortion from the Crimes Act. He's also announced his opposition to the Zero Carbon Act and the speed at which legislation was passed that banned all semi automatic firearms following the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Seymour said on election night his party's priorities are reducing debt and rebuilding the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Make no mistake that the policy settings New Zealand has today are not sustainable. We can't lock ourselves down and keep borrowing to paper over the cracks," he said.

"We must confront our new reality that this virus is going nowhere and get smarter on how we adapt."