David Seymour (New Zealand politician)

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David Seymour

David Seymour on the day of the announcement of his selection by ACT in 2014
Seymour on the day of the announcement of his selection by ACT in 2014
Leader of ACT New Zealand
Assumed office
4 October 2014
DeputyKenneth Wang (2014–2017)
Beth Houlbrooke
Preceded byJamie Whyte
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Epsom
Assumed office
20 September 2014
Preceded byJohn Banks
Personal details
David Breen Seymour

(1983-06-24) 24 June 1983 (age 36)
Palmerston North, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyACT New Zealand
OccupationMember of Parliament

David Breen Seymour (born 24 June 1983) is a New Zealand politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Epsom and Leader of ACT New Zealand since 2014.

A graduate of the University of Auckland, Seymour worked in public policy in Canada,[2] before returning to New Zealand and contesting for election to Parliament. He entered the House of Representatives in 2014 as ACT's sole MP, after which he was elected as party leader, replacing Jamie Whyte. Seymour has embraced libertarian policies since becoming party leader; he supports the legalisation of assisted dying and has introduced a bill on this issue. Seymour has appeared extensively on television during his leadership. In November 2015 Seymour was named the 'Trans Tasman 2015 Politician Of The Year'.[3]

Early life

Seymour went to the University of Auckland where he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Electronic) and a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy).[4]

Seymour is of Ngāpuhi Māori descent on his mother's side,[5][6] with his Māori ancestors coming from the Tauwhara marae of the Ngāti Rēhia hapū near Waimate North.[7]

Before politics

He worked in Canada as a Policy Analyst for five years for Frontier Centre for Public Policy and the Manning Centre.

Seymour is a long time member of ACT New Zealand, initially becoming involved in the political party as a leader of ACT on Campus.[8] He first stood for ACT in 2005 in Mt Albert against Helen Clark, who was Prime Minister at the time.[9] At the 2011 election, he stood for ACT in the Auckland Central electorate, which was retained by National's Nikki Kaye.[10] After this election, Seymour worked as a ministerial adviser for ACT's successful Epsom candidate, John Banks, who was appointed an Associate Minister of Education for the John Key-led National government. Seymour assisted with the development of the government's Partnership Schools legislation.[11][12]

In February 2014, Seymour contested and won the nomination to stand as the ACT Party candidate for Epsom in the 2014 general election. This electorate is seen as strategically important for both ACT and coalition partners National; an ACT victory in Epsom was essential to a National-led government after both the 2008 and 2011 elections.[13] Seymour's selection, over former ACT New Zealand deputy leader John Boscawen,[8] was seen by political commentators as "clean slate" choice[14] and a "fresh face",[15][16] At an Epsom public meeting during this campaign he was seen as "the most popular with the crowd" and "the star of the night, intelligent, witty and articulate".[17][18] He was the first confirmed candidate for the Epsom electorate.[19][20]

During the 2014 election campaign, Seymour released a campaign video online which the ACT Party described as going "viral" after it received around 35,000 views. Seymour said of the video: "I think it was just totally real, we didn't set out to make it funny or make it a viral video, it was just me being me, that combination with rather retro production values ... you wouldn't want to watch it standing up."[21]

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2014–2017 51st Epsom none ACT
2017–present 52nd Epsom 1 ACT

Seymour was endorsed in the Epsom electorate by Prime Minister John Key, despite Key's National colleague Paul Goldsmith also contesting the electorate.[22] Seymour was elected to Parliament in the Epsom electorate in the 2014 general election with a majority of 4,500 votes based on preliminary results.[21][23]

He replaced Jamie Whyte as the leader of ACT on 3 October 2014.[24][25] Seymour was re-elected to Parliament, representing Epsom, in the 2017 general election.[26]

Parliamentary Under-Secretary

Seymour was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education and Minister of Regulatory Reform by Prime Minister John Key on 29 September 2014, as a result of National's confidence and supply agreement with ACT. Seymour was given responsibility for partnership schools, and reforms to the Resource Management Act 1991 and other regulation.[27]

In October 2015, a Labour Party member's bill to make parliamentary under-secretaries subject to the Official Information Act passed its first reading in Parliament. Seymour accused the Bill of personally attacking him, and said it was not necessary because under-secretaries did not have decision-making powers.[28]

Contracts in the second round of applications for charter (partnership) schools were completed on 11 September 2014.[29] In January 2016, the contract was terminated for a Northland charter school from the first round, Te Pūmanawa o te Wairua.[30] Seymour continued to support the policy and push for more charter schools to be established.[31]

End of Life Choice Bill

On 6 June 2015, Seymour confirmed that he was preparing a member's bill that would legalise assisted dying after Seales v Attorney-General found that only parliament had the ability to address assisted dying laws.[32] On 14 October 2015, Seymour lodged the End of Life Choice Bill into the member's ballot, launched a website promoting his bill, and released an ACT-commissioned poll of 2800 people showing 66% public support in favour of legalising assisted dying.[33] On 8 June 2017, Seymour's bill was selected from a member's ballot.[34] The bill was debated at its first reading on 13 December 2017, and passed with 76 votes in favour and 44 against.[35] It was then reviewed by the Justice Select Committee. It reappeared before the House for a second reading 26 June 2019 and passed, with 70 votes in favour, 50 opposed.[36][37] An amendment to the bill which included a binding referendum at the 2020 general election passed prior to its third reading with 63 votes in favour and 57 opposed.[38] The bill reappeared before the House and passed its third reading on 13 November 2019 with 69 votes in favour and 51 votes against.[39] Seymour is confident the public will vote to put the bill into law, noting that "there was overwhelming support and it should easily pass the referendum."[40]

Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Rugby World Cup 2015 Extended Trading Hours) legislation

In August 2015, Seymour introduced a member's bill to allow bars and rugby clubs to extend their bar trading hours when they are televising games from the Rugby World Cup. Most games, due to the time difference between New Zealand and England, started between 4am and 6am New Zealand Time, meaning that alcohol would not usually have been allowed to be sold. Despite opposition from the Green Party and the Māori Party, Seymour's bill passed all three readings, meaning that bars and rugby clubs were allowed to open for Rugby World Cup games.[41]

LGBTI cross-party group

In 2015, Seymour was a member of a cross-party group initiated by Jan Logie to look at and advocate for LGBTI rights. The group consisted of Catherine Delahunty (Green), Chris Bishop (National), David Seymour (ACT), Denis O'Rouke (NZ First), Denise Roche (Green), James Shaw (Green), Jan Logie (Green), Kevin Hague (Green), Louisa Wall (Labour), Nanaia Mahuta (Labour), Paul Foster-Bell (National), and Trevor Mallard (Labour).[42]

Gun control, 2019

Seymour was the sole Member of Parliament to oppose the Labour-led coalition government's Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act 2019, which bans all semi-automatic firearms used during the Christchurch mosque shootings that occurred on 15 March 2019. Although he missed an initial procedural vote on the bill, he still cast a No vote when voting on the actual bill took place with a final result of 119 to 1. Seymour has criticised the urgency of the Government's new gun control legislation.[43][44][45]

Abortion Legislation Act 2020

Seymour has supported the Abortion Legislation Act 2020 but has argued that "safe zones" infringe upon freedom of expression.[46] Prior to the third reading of the Bill on 10 March 2020, Seymour successfully included an amendment eliminating safe zones around abortion clinics.[47][48][49] The bill passed its third reading on 18 March, receiving royal assent on 23 March.[50]

Zero Carbon Act 2019

Despite announcing that the ACT party would vote against the 2019 Zero Carbon Amendment Seymour was conspicuously absent from the vote on the bill's third reading. This allowed it to pass into law with unanimously support, 119–0, drawing the attention of local media.[51]

Coronavirus pandemic

Since 25 March 2020, Seymour has been a member of the Epidemic Response Committee, a select committee that considers the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[52]

Personal life and views

Dancing With the Stars

Seymour appeared on the seventh series of Dancing with the Stars. He competed to raise funds for Kidsline, a youth telephone counselling service. His professional dancing partner was Amelia McGregor.[53] Despite harsh criticism from the judges,[54] he finished 5th.[55]

2019 Hong Kong protests

Seymour has defended the rights of pro-democracy protesters in New Zealand during the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests. He criticised the Chinese Consulate-General in Auckland for praising the actions of Chinese students who had allegedly assaulted a Hong Kong student activist erecting a Lennon Wall at the University of Auckland on 29 July 2019.[56] Seymour also spoke at a pro-Hong Kong democracy rally at the University of Auckland on 6 August 2019.[57][58] Seymour's defence of free speech was praised by blogger Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury.[59]


In mid-May 2019, Seymour generated widespread criticism, including from MPs from all of the other parties, when he stated in a radio interview that Green Party List MP Golriz Ghahraman was a "menace to freedom in [New Zealand]." Critics suggested Seymour's association of Ghahraman's support for hate speech laws with suppression of free speech by dictators like Mao Zedong and Hitler was inapproriate. Seymour argued that he had merely "attacked her views".[60][61]


  1. ^ New Zealand Parliament. "Epsom: Electoral Profile". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  2. ^ "ACT decisions". Kiwiblog. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Trans Tasman Roll Call 2015" (PDF). Trans Tasman. 30 November 2015.
  4. ^ "David Seymour". Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  5. ^ Seymour, David. "Spread the Love – Take Waitangi Day on the road". Fairfax New Zealand. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  6. ^ Espiner, Guyon (29 January 2015). "Epsom's singularity". Bauer Media. New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  7. ^ Dann, Jennifer (3 July 2018). "12 Questions with David Seymour: I played the game pretty well". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b NBR Staff (2 February 2014). "ACT choses Whyte for leader, Seymour for Epsom". National Business Review. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Jamie Whyte elected Act leader – National – NZ Herald News". 2 February 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Official Count Results – Auckland Central". Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  11. ^ "People | ACT New Zealand". Archived from the original on 2 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  12. ^ "Party policy provokes division". Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  13. ^ "New energy driving Act, says hopeful – National – NZ Herald News". 3 February 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  14. ^ "Race on for Act Party leadership – Politics News". TVNZ. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  15. ^ "John Armstrong: Act finally does something right – National – NZ Herald News". 3 February 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Act names fresh leadership team". TVNZ. 2 February 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  17. ^ Simon Day (30 January 2014). "ACT hopefuls state their case". Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Audrey Young: Has Act got talent?". 31 January 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  19. ^ "iPredict Weblog : Entries : ACT Party leadership". 28 January 2014. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  20. ^ "Seymour to seek Act nomination for Epsom". 10 January 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  21. ^ a b Dastgheib, Shabnam (21 September 2014). "ACT novice Seymour victorious in Epsom". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  22. ^ "Key will endorse ACT in Epsom again". 3 News. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  23. ^ "Election Results – Epsom". 21 September 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  24. ^ Vance, Andrea (3 October 2014). "ACT's Jamie Whyte quits as leader". Stuff. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  25. ^ ACT New Zealand. "David Seymour Accepts Act Leadership". Scoop. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  26. ^ "Vote 2017: Bitter-sweet night for Act Party". New Zealand Herald – 23 September 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  27. ^ Davison, Isaac (29 September 2014). "Act deal: No portfolio for David Seymour". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  28. ^ "ACT leader claims Labour targeting him with bill". RNZ News. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  29. ^ Ministry of Education. "Round 2 – Partnership Schools Contracts". Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  30. ^ Johnston, Kirsty. "Government terminates charter school contract". NZ Herald. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  31. ^ Patterson, Jane (26 February 2016). "Can ACT lift its game under David Seymour's leadership?". RNZ News. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  32. ^ "Euthanasia debate back on the political agenda". Stuff. 6 June 2015.
  33. ^ "Voluntary euthanasia bill launched by David Seymour". Stuff. 14 October 2015.
  34. ^ "Voluntary euthanasia to be debated after Seymour bill drawn from ballot". NZ Herald. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  35. ^ "Historic right to die bill passes first hurdle". Stuff. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  36. ^ "Euthanasia bill passes second reading". New Zealand Herald. 26 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  37. ^ "Euthanasia bill passes second reading in Parliament". Radio New Zealand. 26 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  38. ^, Boris Jancic Political reporter, NZ Herald (23 October 2019). "Euthanasia bill to go to referendum after knife-edge vote in Parliament". ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  39. ^ "Recap: MPs vote in favour of End of Life Choice Bill at final reading". Stuff. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  40. ^ "End of Life Choice Bill: Euthanasia put to public vote in 2020". Newshub. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  41. ^ "Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Rugby World Cup 2015 Extended Trading Hours) Amendment Bill — Third Reading". Hansard. 26 August 2015.
  42. ^ Jones, Nicholas (23 May 2015). "MPs' group to focus on LGBTI people's rights". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  43. ^ Devin, Collette (2 April 2019). "First new gun law since the Christchurch mosque attacks passes first reading". Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  44. ^ Whyte, Anna (2 April 2019). "Arms Amendment Bill passes first reading in Parliament". 1 News. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  45. ^ "David Seymour misses chance to slow gun legislation debate". Radio New Zealand. 2 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  46. ^ "Final report: Abortion Legislation Bill". New Zealand Parliament. 14 February 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  47. ^ "Abortion Legislation Bill – In Committee". New Zealand Parliament. 10 March 2020. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  48. ^ Wade, Amelia (11 March 2020). "Voting mix-up sees abortion safe-zones axed and MPs 'gutted'". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  49. ^ McCullough, Yvette (11 March 2020). "MPs vote to remove abortion clinic safe zones from Bill". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  50. ^ "Abortion Legislation Bill - New Zealand Parliament". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  51. ^ Stuff Limited Retrieved 6 April 2020. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  52. ^ "Epidemic response". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  53. ^ "David Seymour's pants won't stay up after his Dancing with the Stars weight loss". 3 May 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  54. ^ "'Like swimming upstream': David Seymour's Dancing with the Stars performance condemned again". Newshub. 27 May 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  55. ^ "Dancing With The Stars NZ: David Seymour eliminated in semi-final face-off". Stuff. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  56. ^ Small, Zane (5 August 2019). "ACT leader David Seymour demands Chinese Consulate General explain "encouraging violent behaviour"". Newshub. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  57. ^ Tan, Lincoln (6 August 2019). "More than 100 gather for Hong Kong protest at the University of Auckland". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  58. ^ Christian, Harrison (6 August 2019). "Hong Kong protesters gather at Auckland University". Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  59. ^ Bradbury, Martyn (6 August 2019). "In praise of David Seymour & solidarity with Hong Kong protest at Auckland University today". The Daily Blog. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  60. ^ "Act leader David Seymour taken to task for Golriz Ghahraman comments". The New Zealand Herald. 17 May 2019.
  61. ^ "David Seymour denies responsibility over threats to Golriz Ghahraman". Newshub. Retrieved 24 November 2019.

External links

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
John Banks
Member of Parliament
for Epsom

New office Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education
Office abolished
Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Regulatory Reform
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jamie Whyte
Leader of ACT New Zealand
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