David Seymour's decision to launch a green policy at his party's annual conference raised eyebrows.

Polling by the Greens - whose environmental credentials were rubbished by Seymour in media interviews this week - showed no voters wavering between the two parties.

Seymour won't expect such conversions.

But his policy to sell Landcorp and use the proceeds to fund wildlife sanctuaries fits with efforts to present a softer Act.


David Seymour calls for sale of Landcorp

Act attacks Green Party over air miles

Seymour's gaffes, including telling reporters the French love the coq during a discussion about the flag change, are mostly deliberate and contribute to an image that is young, fresh and self-deprecating.

His championing of voluntary euthanasia has the approval of former leader Dr Jamie Whyte, partly because it addressed the issue of many voters viewing Act as "uncaring, and all about money".

The policy announced today presents that more caring side, although the sanctuaries are secondary to the harder-edged goal of getting rid of an SOE.

More critical outcomes of today's conference will be efforts to improve the party's structure and fundraising, and to broaden its appeal - there were as many local Chinese media organisations at Seymour's speech as traditional outlets.

Consistently polling below 1 per cent would send other parties into crisis. But Act's turbulent history meant the roughly 80 members who gathered at a plush conference centre next Orakei basin were upbeat.

President John Thompson urged members not to be dispirited by the polling, but warned Act needed to give voters a reason to support the party, "and not a reason not to vote for Act, something we have excelled at for the best part of a decade".

Seymour's scandal-free tenure and today's green-tinged policy will help the latter.
Much tougher will be providing a reason to vote Act, and not an ever-popular National Party.

Seymour's speech was peppered with jokes at other political parties' expense, and at times felt like stand-up - but the frequent digs at National's drift to the centre were more serious than those aimed at the Green Party over the environment.