Act’s David Seymour has again revved up his rhetoric on the campaign trail, claiming the Inland Revenue Department is a “gang that steals more than anyone and they’re run by a big gangster called Grant Robertson who’s taking more money than any other gang you’ve heard of.”

Touching on law and order at an Auckland Chinese Community election forum, Seymour said Act believed people had a right not to have their money stolen, whether it be by ram raiders, burglars or gangs, but also by the state in the form of over taxation.

“You can make a difference in your own life. When you make an effort there should be reward and you should not have your reward stolen.”

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Speaking at the event in Mangere, Seymour said Act believed people should be “safe from crime, both criminals in Wellington and criminals in gangs around here.”

The labelling of Robertson and the IRD was met by some laughter in the 140-strong crowd but Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni said afterward that kind of talk was unacceptable and ridiculous. It went without saying that her ministerial colleague was “not a gangster and he’s not a criminal”.

Seymour has run into controversy in the early weeks of the campaign, suggesting the Ministry of Pacific Affairs could do with being blown up.

Last week he was the subject of some political hyperbole himself when the Māori Affairs minister Willie Jackson labelled him the most dangerous man in New Zealand during a fiery debate in downtown Auckland. 

Seymour told the Chinese community meeting: “If you are Willie Jackson’s career and his big fat salary, then, yes, the Act Party is the most dangerous party in New Zealand because we are going to kick them out and get some real change and get some value for money for New Zealand taxpayers. Everyone else? We are no danger whatsoever.”

Keeping with his hard line on “wasteful” departments or ministries, he said Act’s alternative budget had shown how it could cut $9 billion “without touching a teacher, fire fighter, police officer, nurse or doctor or anyone who anyone in the real world would actually notice. That is how much bureaucratic waste there is in Wellington.

“With that saved money, we’d reduce your taxes so someone on the average wage would be $2,000 a year better off. We are going to cut waste and cut taxes.

“The Labour Party say me and Chris Luxon are the coalition of cuts. I say ‘absolutely. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be cut’. Crime needs to be cut too.”

Labour’s Sepuloni answered a moderator’s question on law and order by questioning simple rhetoric that young offenders should be locked up and noting success in wraparound supports for young offenders and a 65 percent reduction in ram raids in the past three months.

But Seymour attacked their record again, to applause from some in the crowd.

“I hear Labour say they are taking crime seriously. That’s not the problem. The problem is criminals don’t take Labour seriously.”

Tim Murphy is co-editor of Newsroom. He writes about politics, Auckland, and media. Twitter: @tmurphynz

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