The rise of A.C.T.


For the last nine year since A.C.T. was thrashed in the Election of 2011, it has been a one man band. It has undergone several leadership changes in that time, before David Blair Seymour became leader in 2014.

This is not the first time A.C.T. has been looking this strong in the polls. A.C.T. formed in 1994 and first contested the elections in 1996, gaining 8 M.P.’s. From 1999 to 2005 it had 9 Members of Parliament. That slumped to two M.P.’s in that year, but surged on the election of National to office in 2008 to five M.P.s. The following Parliamentary term however was rocked by scandals including the admission that former M.P. David Garrett used the details of a dead baby to get a passport, which revolted the voting public. The previous nine years until 2020 have seen A.C.T. very much as a one man band in Epsom.

Whilst the other parties in Parliament have fallen, or are steady, A.C.T. have been climbing, to what would be – if an election were held today – its best ever result. On current polling A.C.T. would have Mr Seymour plus 9 more Members of Parliament. The other nine would be (in listing order):

  • Brooke van Velden (Wellington Central)
  • Nicole McKee (Rongotai)
  • Chris Baillie (Nelson)
  • Simon Court (Te Atatu)
  • James Dowall (Waikato)
  • Karen Chhour (Upper Harbour)
  • Mark Cameron (Northland)
  • Toni Severin (Christchurch East)
  • Damien Smith (Botany)

So who are these people and what would they bring to Parliament in terms of knowledge, skills and backgrounds?

Brooke van Velden is the Deputy Leader of A.C.T. She comes from a mixed background of working in factory environments and as a corporate consultant. She worked in Parliament behind the scenes to enable the passage of the End of Life Choices Bill.

Nicole McKee is a national shooting champion who believes that the Government response to the Christchurch mosque attack was a knee jerk reaction. She runs a business providing firearms safety training. is qualified in law and has experience handling firearms component imports.

Chris Baillie is a full time secondary school teacher. He is a former police officer with 14 years patrol experience. Mr Baillie also owns a hospitality business that employs 14 people.

Simon Court is a civil and environmental engineer with 23 years experience, including managing planning and tendering projects as well as staff teams in Auckland, Wellington and Fiji. Mr Court believes that the R.M.A. needs to be replaced.

James McDowall is the owner of several businesses that include an immigration law firm. He also works for a mental health non-governmental organization. Mr McDowall has also led the development of A.C.T.’s firearms legislative response in the wake of the Government amending firearms laws.

Karen Chhour is a self employed mother of four who lives in Auckland. She believes that “anyone with the right tools can make something of themselves”.

Mark Cameron is a farmer in Northland who has farmed the region for 30 years. He will be driving A.C.T. rural policies.

Toni Severin is a business owner that she runs along with her husband. Prior to that she has 14 years experience as a lab technician working for the Canterbury District Health Board. Mrs Severin is also a licenced gun owner.

Damien Smith has extensive experience in business, banking, and company directorship. Damien has a Masters in Business Administration and is a qualified educationalist.

What do you think of the above candidates?