David Seymour says he doesn't 'believe' comment from Christopher Luxon on Treaty Principles Bill

ACT leader David Seymour is refusing to back down on his controversial Treaty Principles Bill, saying he believes the Prime Minister's opinion can be changed.   

Seymour believes Prime Minister Christopher Luxon was "nervous" after Waitangi and could still back his Treaty Principles Bill despite ruling out doing so.   

But questions remain about why the Bill is even getting to the Select Committee stage if National won't support it beyond its first reading.   

Luxon doubled down on his party's stance of not supporting ACT's proposal beyond first reading on Wednesday. New Zealand First is also in National's corner.  

The Prime Minister also said National wouldn't support the Bill beyond the first reading even if there is a massive groundswell of support for it.   

But Seymour is undeterred by Luxon's comments and came out with fighting words when he joined AM on Thursday morning.   

"I mean, last week, he wouldn't rule out supporting it further, yesterday he would. I think perhaps he got a bit nervous after Waitangi," he told AM co-host Lloyd Burr.   

But there was one part of Luxon's comments that Seymour said he didn't believe.   

"But ultimately the bit I don't believe is he won't change his mind if the public really wants it," he said.   

"All politicians are very mindful of what the public wants, and I've seen polls published in the Herald that said that 60 percent of New Zealanders agree with what we're saying on the Treaty, 18 percent disagree, they want this debate.  

"I think ultimately it's not about what I think or what Chris thinks or what we say right now, it's where the public are at in maybe a year's time when this thing comes up."   

Seymour believes history could repeat itself, pointing to a policy ACT proposed at the start of the Sir John Key government.   

"I also point out that we've actually been here before, at the start of the John Key government, ACT introduced the three strikes idea," he told AM.   

"National at the time said, 'Oh, no, it's just not going to happen'. You ask anyone from the National Party today, it's the best idea they ever had. Three strikes, in fact, we're about to bring it back and that's a great thing because we've been far too soft on criminals in recent times."   

Seymour is so undeterred by the Prime Minister's comments that ACT has launched a public information campaign in a bid to get the public on board.   

It includes a new website, treaty.nz, which includes a Q&A section setting out ACT's approach and a video featuring Seymour. 

The ACT leader told AM the Bill is bigger than him and the Prime Minister, saying it's about what the public wants.   

"The Treaty of Waitangi for the last 40 years has had these principles developed. They've been developed by the courts, by the Waitangi Tribunal, by the public service, they've told us that there's a partnership between the Crown and Māori, which means that the status of everyone else in New Zealand is a bit unclear," Seymour said.   

"Now we're proposing that maybe we need to have a proper public discussion about the Treaty, not just judges, not just the Waitangi Tribunal, not just public servants, actually everyone, because we all have a stake in living in this country."   

Watch the full interview above.