Act wants the green vote - arguing its ideology is the best bet to save the environment and the party's proud green history has been ignored.

Leader David Seymour, who as a child was a member of the Kiwi Conservation Club and successfully campaigned for aluminium recycling at Whangarei's Maunu Primary, said it irked him that Act's environmental credentials weren't better recognised.

"We just maybe haven't done enough jumping up and down like the Greens. We have had the sausage and they have had the sizzle."

He plans to change that by focussing on the environment during his address to Act's annual conference at Orakei in Auckland on Saturday, and announce related policy.


"I think it will remind some people thinking about [voting] Act that, far from being aloof to the environment, we have actually got the best philosophies and policies.

"I'm not going to announce that we should scrap DoC, but certainly I am going to announce that I have come to the conclusion that we should offer more support to private initiatives. What DoC have done with partnerships is a step in the right direction."

The conference's green theme will be bolstered by attendees being given rides in a Tesla S, an electric sports car that goes from 0-100 in 3.2 seconds (outpacing most Ferraris).

The Act leader's address will focus on what he says are the "four Ps" of free-market environmentalism - pricing, property rights, prosperity, and private initiative.

"The worst environmental disasters occurred in the Soviet Union, basically because there is nobody who owns property saying, 'Hey, if you pollute this you are going to devalue my property,'" Mr Seymour told the Herald.

On private companies causing environmental disasters, such as in the case of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, he said there were strong deterrents such as reputational damage and financial penalties.

Act wants New Zealand to dump the Emissions Trading Scheme, and introduce a carbon tax - but Mr Seymour said he believed the rate of such a tax should initially be set at zero.

"It is not fashionable to say it, but the reality is that New Zealand is doomed whatever we do, unless larger emitters change."


Mr Seymour said many Act members would count themselves as environmentalists and the party had members with strong environmental records.

Sir Roger Douglas' cutting of subsidies for the agricultural sector in the 1980s led to a huge drop in the use of fertiliser, which had been heavily subsidised and polluted waterways, Mr Seymour said, and former Act leader Rodney Hide had a masters in environmental science.

There was no trade-off between prosperity and environmental protection, Mr Seymour said. New Zealand and its citizens were wealthy enough to spend millions of dollars trying to protect threatened species.

"African countries generally can't afford to do things like that, and they generally have people running around with cheap AK-47s shooting majestic creatures like rhinos and elephants."