10 Jul 2017

ACT's new deputy will 'broaden voter appeal'

8:58 am on 10 July 2017

ACT's new deputy hopes her "life experience" will complement the party's 'millennial' leader David Seymour, broadening ACT's appeal.

ACT Party David Seymour 21 June 2017

Party leader David Seymour. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

Beth Houlbrooke took over as second-in-charge yesterday after Kenneth Wang quit in protest over where he was set to be ranked in the party's list.

The Auckland businesswoman said her skills would help balance out the "young male candidate" Mr Seymour.

"I'm obviously more mature, a female, had a family, been in business, had some life experience... have owned several homes.

"Hopefully that will broaden our voter appeal and allow us to speak on a broader range of topics than David can speak [to] on his own."

Ms Houlbrooke is the chair of the Rodney Local Board and has been a member of ACT since its conception, standing in two previous elections.

She said she would provide some continuity and "linkage to our past" in a line-up of mostly fresh faces.

"David's done a fantastic job of attracting millennials and the youth vote. I hope to keep our present supporters engaged."

She said the party had undergone "a bit of a clean-out", unveiling a diverse and rejuvenated line-up to contest this year's election.

"If you keep doing the same thing, you'll get the same results. It's time for a change."

'I'm disappointed in Kenneth'

Just four of ACT's top 10 candidates have previously stood for the party. They have an average age of 37 with an even split of men and women.

Mr Seymour described the line-up as "a total revolution", which represented modern New Zealand.

"If you look at our previous results, what we were doing was not working.

"Over the last three years, we've been talking about issues that are important to millennials - tax, superannuation, housing.

"The tide of talent has come in. The party today looks quite different from the 2011 or 2014 election and I think that's going to pay off at the polls."

Mr Seymour also praised Ms Houlbrooke as "a vastly superior candidate" compared to her predecessor Mr Wang.

Mr Wang yesterday criticised ACT, saying it had neglected Asian voters and shied away from being tough on crime or its one-law-for-all policy.

But Mr Seymour said that wasn't true and that Mr Wang had "thrown his toys out of the cot" after not being made second on the list.

"That's all there is to it. I'm disappointed in Kenneth for the way that he's reacted, but it just confirms the party made the right decision in not selecting him.

"You're either a team player or you're not playing at all."

ACT's top 10 candidates for 2017

1 David Seymour Epsom

2 Beth Houlbrooke Rodney

3 Brooke van Velden Auckland Central

4 Bhupinder Singh Manukau East

5 Stephen Berry East Coast Bays

6 Stuart Pedersen Tauranga

7 Anneka Carlson New Plymouth

8 Shan Ng Mana

9 Sam Purchas Dunedin North

10 Toni Severin Christchurch East

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