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ACT Leader David Seymour Brushes Off Claims Party Has A 'Culture Of Fear'

Lillian Hanly, Political reporter 

ACT leader David Seymour is playing down reported complaints from volunteers about his party's culture.

Last week, Stuff reported claims of volunteers leaving the party, expressing no confidence in the board and raising concerns about the party's treatment of women.

The reports said sources close to the party accused its campaign leadership of creating a "culture of fear".

But leader David Seymour has brushed off the reports, saying they are not representative of ACT as a whole.

"I think that's contrary to the overwhelming experience that people have had."

He also said campaigning was tough.

"Every time you have an election, people come and they find that maybe politics is not for them. They get disappointed, I've watched it for eight election cycles."

The party has a regular post-election review, which Seymour said aimed to inform the board and party management how to run a better campaign.

"We had a professional do in-depth interviews with 61 different people who were in different ways engaged in the campaign.

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"They've produced a report of, I think, 36 recommendations."

Seymour said he suspected the party would adopt all the recommendations.

ACT held its annual rally in Auckland on Sunday, to a crowd of more than 500 people.

Seymour said the party's support had grown by 1,000 percent in five years and set a goal of reaching 15 percent of the vote at the next election.

"It would complete ACT's transformation from an insurgent small party to the small large party you are helping us build."

He said his party was able to influence "real change".

"We have the most ambitious government in half a lifetime and it's the first time ACT's been in cabinet. That is no coincidence."

Much of Seymour's speech on Sunday focussed on the opposition, attacking Te Pāti Māori, the Greens, and Labour.

But Labour leader Chris Hipkins responded by saying the government was an "absolute shambles".

"I think the only thing that seems to be uniting them is they want to tear everything down," he said.

"I think when even (former Labour finance minister) Roger Douglas says the ACT party has become the party of entrenched privilege, I think it's time for the ACT party to have a rethink."

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