Rob Douglas realised he might be spending more time in Wellington when the Act party list was released in July.
“When I got the list position at 16, at that point, I immediately started opening up discussions. I’m pretty confident and feel like the party’s got really good momentum behind it.”
He listed his business – a property valuation firm he’s been running since 2010 – last Monday.
It was entirely coincidental, he said, that was the day when the 1 News Verian poll showed Act hit its highest result so far, 13 percent, giving them 17 seats in parliament.
“It was a coincidence. I’ve been feeling this for a while and we’ve been polling pretty strongly for a while. So, it was pure luck.”
Douglas has been involved in politics and a staunch Act supporter since his teenage years.
The nephew of the party’s founder, Sir Roger Douglas, his support lies first and foremost in the party’s economic roots.
“I can remember in the first MMP election, I was the biggest [Act] supporter at my local high school … I was canvassing all the kids, most of whom probably couldn’t even vote in this election, to vote Act and I’ve been a continuous supporter of Act since.
“Really, I strongly believe that the way to improve people’s standard of living is by giving them a better and stronger economy, and I believe that a small government, low-tax regime with less regulation and waste is the way to achieve that, and Act’s been the only party that consistently stood up for that.”
Last month, Sir Roger decried the direction of the Act party, saying it had “lost the plot” and he was undecided whether he would still vote for it. He said it “catered only to the wealthy”.
The party’s leader David Seymour said at the time he suspected the party was not as “radical” on tax as Sir Roger would like.
Act has continued its commitment to just two tax rates, with the cut-off at $70,000 per annum. Those under that threshold would pay 17.5 percent tax and those over would move down to the 28 percent rate over a few years.
To offset the higher taxes paid by lower earners Act would introduce a tax credit for low and middle-income households, which would amount to about $800 a year for those earning less than $48,000.
The party would also use funds captured under the Emissions Trading Scheme as a tax credit.
Rob Douglas said part of his belief in Act party ideology was because of those formative connections with his uncle, but is confident the direction it’s heading now is the right way.
“If you actually have a look around my family, some of them support Act and and some of them don’t… it was the policies that have convinced me that it’s the right party for New Zealand.”
“Things have got so bad, I can’t just stand back and do nothing about it. I’ve got three daughters and I want them to have a future here in New Zealand.” – Rob Douglas.
He said it’s not just the economic direction he supports either, saying he agrees with Act’s desire to hold a referendum on co-governance, redefine the Treaty principles, and its stance on law and order.
“I just don’t think we can go forward as a divided country, it’s being landed on people in an undemocratic way. The Labour Party’s not campaigned on any of this co-governance, they’ve never given us an opportunity to vote on it.
“I’m fully in support of repealing Three Waters and the Māori Health Authority and a referendum … all of those issues. And the same with crime … the Labour government have just lost focus on it.”
After being a party faithful for decades Douglas said he finally reached a “tipping point” which was why he was finally standing.
“Things have got so bad, I can’t just stand back and do nothing about it. I’ve got three daughters and I want them to have a future here in New Zealand. But, the issues that we’re constantly going on about are all issues that might drive them offshore eventually if we don’t fix up the great country that we’ve got.”
He’s hoping for a housing spokesperson role should his prediction come to fruition, saying he’s got a lot to offer.
“Not on a specific single issue but very much the big picture around housing. I mean, being a registered valuer, I go into people’s homes on a near-daily basis and I see the crazy shortage that we’ve got and how hard it is to develop anything.
“I believe that I can certainly offer some real-world solutions, practical solutions that can help you know, make housing affordable, so that everyone can have a high-quality affordable home that doesn’t have to be supplied by the government. And what I do also see on a regular basis is that people that are living in their own homes have far greater sense of wellbeing. They look after their own homes and the communities around them.”
Recently Act bid farewell to two candidates linked to misinformation and conspiracy theories and a third candidate, who apologised. National leader Christopher Luxon has also poured cold water on Act’s proposal to redefine Treaty of Waitangi principles.
How this might affect the next public poll remains to be seen.
Recent internal polling from the Labour Party had Act on 10 percent.
So will Douglas put a caveat in his sale and purchase agreement?
“Yes, I’m not that reckless,” he laughs.