Election 2023: ACT leader David Seymour makes public pitch to be deputy Prime Minister

ACT leader David Seymour has made a public pitch for the deputy Prime Minister role, saying ACT is the second-largest party of the three negotiating a coalition.   

He has also suggested he believes ACT should have more ministers than New Zealand First, saying proportionality is important.   

Seymour said on Tuesday that he has always said he will "serve in whatever role that I need to to advance the goals of the ACT Party and the Government for New Zealand".   

Asked if that meant he wasn't too concerned with whether he got that role, he responded: "No. I think there is a very clear agenda that the ACT Party is the second-largest party in the Government".   

"Therefore, if there is a second role in the Government, that should go to the second party."   

But he said, "negotiations are negotiations".

The final election results showed that National would have 48 seats in the next Parliament, ACT would have 11 and New Zealand First would have eight.

Pushed by Newshub on his desire for ACT to provide the deputy Prime Minister, he said: "I think there is a clear case for that to happen".  

"But like I say, you are involved in a negotiation and there are lots of different options and things to talk about. I am not going to try and predetermine it one way or another, but that is the negotiation we are engaged in."   

Seymour was seen at Luxon's Auckland house on Tuesday morning. His vehicle, with his face, name and ACT's magenta and yellow colours, was parked right out front.   

It comes after National leader Christopher Luxon on Monday announced National had come to agreements with ACT and New Zealand First on policy programmes. That announcement appeared to blindside both Seymour and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, but negotiations have continued.   

The ACT leader waved to media as he walked out of Luxon's property on Tuesday, saying he was just "visiting a constituent". While Luxon is the Botany MP, he lives in the Epsom electorate meaning Seymour is his local MP.   

"He is having some challenges with a negotiation he is involved in and I found I could actually be quite helpful," Seymour said.   

ACT leader David Seymour.
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub.

He said there was a lot of negotiating going on but the pair had made "really good progress". It was "collaborative and constructive".   

"We have had to talk a lot about policy, but we have also got to have a Government formed and that involves people having to do jobs that align with the policy goals of the Government as well as their own skills and passions so they can deliver for people."   

Seymour said the meeting focused on "the shape of the Government" rather than policy.   

He wouldn't say what ministerial roles ACT was after or how many ministers ACT would have.    

"To be honest, I could start giving really excruciating detail, but I know if I did that, you would just start asking more questions. I know how you operate at Newshub. You are just newshounds."   

But he did say proportionality was important to democracy and a "fair way to do things". ACT having more ministers than New Zealand First would be the result of proportionality, he said.   

"I am not talking about the negotiations or where they are up to. I am just making some observations from an ACT Party point of view that we think that maths matters and the people's votes should be represented in some sort of proportional way."

He wouldn't say whether it was possible for a Government deal to be struck on Wednesday.    

"I think it is always possible we are going to get a deal tomorrow, but I feel bad for having said that quite a few times in the last five weeks so I won't say it today."   

But he "absolutely" thinks it will be this week.   

Seymour said he didn't have plans to meet with Peters on Tuesday, but said some meetings have come about with just an hour's notice. He said ACT was always ready to meet or pick up the phone.   

"We are in a really good space. We are just dotting 'i's and crossing 't's on things like that."   

Peters visited ACT's offices in Auckland on Monday afternoon with his staffer Darroch Ball. He was inside for roughly an hour.   

Upon exiting, Newshub asked Peters what he had been working on with ACT.     

"We are working on getting a coalition together," he said.   

Winston Peters arriving at ACT HQ on Monday.
Winston Peters arriving at ACT HQ on Monday. Photo credit: Newshub.

He wouldn't say if a deal should be expected this week.   

"Oh dear," Peters said as he got in his car.   

Asked by Newshub what he was working on with New Zealand First, Seymour said on Monday they were in the "final stages of having an agreement".     

"We have been really happy with the engagement we have had today and just about every day over the last few days," he said.