John Banks raised hackles within Act and put a possible dampener on his prospects of returning to Parliament when he publicly demanded a high list position in the party.

The former Auckland City mayor, a guest speaker at Act's weekend conference, took members by surprise when he told the media he would insist on being near the top of the list if he were to stand.

Act leader Rodney Hide said he would have expected Mr Banks, a former National Cabinet minister, to have told the board and leader before making the public statement.

Mr Banks said he had conducted polling in the Auckland electorate of Tamaki that showed he would win if people wanting a centre-right government voted strategically.

He also refused to deny he was aiming to be party leader.

The Herald understands Mr Banks' comments have annoyed some members of the Act hierarchy who believe he over-pitched himself and tried to hijack the conference.

It is understood party members think it was inappropriate of Mr Banks, who had been invited to the conference as a guest.

Mr Banks' polling in Tamaki, which the Act Party did not know about, is also believed to have caused annoyance with the Act board, which last year chose current Act MP Ken Shirley to stand in the electorate.

It has been speculated that Mr Banks will stand for Act and his statements were the closest he has come to confirming this.

His speech earned a standing ovation and impressed people attending the conference. One party member described it as the equivalent of a job interview easily passed.

While his outburst may have put a question mark over the board's approval, it is still thought the odds are in his favour of being granted the approval.

However, there is also concern that Mr Banks is too socially conservative for the liberal party.

A high-ranking member said Mr Banks would never be leader of Act for that reason.

Last night, Mr Banks said he had received an overwhelming amount of support since his speech.

He said he had still not decided whether he would stand and was not "breaking his neck" to get back into Parliament.

Mr Hide used his keynote conference speech to send a signal to National Party voters in the Epsom electorate.

He encouraged them to cast their constituency vote for him because National candidate Richard Worth was guaranteed to return to Parliament as he had a high position on National's list.

Mr Hide said his first priority was still to win as much of the party vote as possible - Act is aiming for between 7 and 10 per cent - but he believed he had a realistic chance of winning Epsom.

Mr Hide said Act's stand on tax cuts was non-negotiable.

Act continued to work to distance itself from National.

"National's strategy is this: vote for us and nothing will change," Mr Hide said. "Don Brash is leader, but National is now more left-wing than when Bill English was in charge."

Act Party president Catherine Judd also got personal in her attack.

"The National spokesman for bashing Act has been charged with throwing us down the electoral staircase. We're not too worried about that though. Let's face it, Gerry [Brownlee] is not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree."

Ms Judd survived an attempt to end her presidency, defeating challenger Gareth Turner.

Mr Turner and Paul King, who was ranked number 11 on the Act list, yesterday announced they were leaving Act to form their own group, to be called the Freedom Party.