Act leader David Seymour flanked by new MPs in the Viaduct Harbour last night. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The nine-years of sitting in Parliament, a solitary party of one is history, with nine additional politicians joining leader David Seymour.
So who is the band of fresh politicians ready to take up the Opposition benches for the next three years?
First off the list is party deputy leader Brooke Van Velden. At 27, she is the resident millennial and go-to vegetarian.
Van Velden has been touted as “the future of the party” by her leader who worked closely with her when she was a staffer who had the job of getting the End of Life Choice Bill passed.
She said her crash-course in the machinery of Parliament to get the bill meant she was prepared for the demands of being an MP.
The next newcomer is Nicole McKee who only signed up to the Act Party two months ago.
She met leader David Seymour last year when they both became the public face of opposition to gun law reforms in the wake of the Christchurch mosque massacre.
McKee, 48, appeared before a select committee as the spokeswoman for the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners.
McKee said she and her husband shot deer occasionally to fill the freezer. “I just want meat to feed the family. I’m not after the trophies.”
Fourth on the list is Chris Baillie, a special needs teacher and publican and former policeman.
Baillie joined Act at the end of 2019, and after meeting leader David Seymour early this year, decided to run for Parliament.
He was in favour of Act’s small business policies, as well as libertarian issues: the proposed “hate speech” legislation and the firearms reforms after the Christchurch mosque attacks.
He also plays trumpet, and belonged to the Roger Fox Big Band when he was at university.
Simon Court is Act’s environment spokesman and number five on the list.
The civil and environmental engineer had supported Act for more than two decades but joined the party after going to an event in December.
In a bio he said his Down syndrome teenage son was one of the main reasons he wanted to get into Parliament. One of his ambitions was to remove barriers for disabled people so those like his son could follow their dreams.
James McDowall is a 32-year-old with a PhD in strategic foresight and co-owns a number of small businesses. One is an immigration law firm with his lawyer wife. He runs the non-legal side of the firm.
He also helps runs a strategic foresight consultancy firm but for his day job, he works for a large NGO in the mental health and homelessness sector, where he runs the digital marketing team.
At number six on the list McDowall is a long-time Act supporter and passionate about the party’s guns policy, which he helped draft.
Karen Chhour a self-employed mother of four from Auckland’s North Shore.
She’s vocal about her experience as a foster child and participated in the launch of Act’s mental health policy during the recent Covid-19 lockdown in Auckland.
She told the Spinoff her life and work experiences enabled her to understand issues from multiple angles rather than the tunnel vision one-size-fits-all policies we currently have.
She was committed to working hard to represent the average hard-working New Zealander to forge a country to be proud of.
Taking the eighth spot is Mark Cameron, a dairy farmer from Ruawai in the Far North.
He says his priorities are to cut taxes and reduce public spending along with debts.
The 48-year-old said he had witnessed the erosion of core values of Northlanders. All too often there was an increasing burden on the lives of New Zealanders with relentless fast-moving legislative changes that routinely overlook the rights and freedoms of the people they are designed to help.
He had joined the Act Party to arrest the pernicious nature of these policies and restore integrity in the political process by offering critical thinking and pragmatism.
At number nine Toni Severin is a long-time Act campaigner and business owner.
The qualified lab technician is also a licensed firearm owner who is critical of gun law reforms on law-abiding citizens.
She says she holds strong values of self-responsibility, less government interference and freedom of choice. The Covid pandemic has also highlighted the need for common sense solutions to rebuild businesses and homes, something she says Act has in spades.
The last list politician to take a seat in Parliament for Act is Damien Smith.
The Auckland businessman lives with his daughter in Auckland. According to his profile on the Act website Smith has extensive experience in business, banking, and company directorship. He has a masters in business administration and is a qualified educationalist.
Smith said he stood for Act because New Zealand needed aspirational policy values: free trade, property rights and privacy, the right to conduct business, freedom of speech, a more accountable Government, and giving every citizen of New Zealand a fair go.