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Can we trust David Seymour?

Written By: - Date published: 10:04 am, May 1st, 2021 - 48 comments
Categories: act, david seymour, Parliament, parliamentary spending, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

David Seymour has got himself into a little bit of trouble.

He filed a Parliamentary Pecuniary interests return that was not, ahem, in accordance with the rules.

The first problem was that it was late.  Sir Martin Wevers gave him a rather pronounced telling off.  From the introduction to the 2020 Register of Pecuniary Interests:

I was disappointed that three members—the Hon Peeni Henare, David Seymour, and the Hon Willie Jackson—submitted their returns after the deadline.
All three are experienced members who have submitted previous returns correctly, and I expected the same this year. Standing Orders make it clear that members are responsible for submitting their returns by the deadline. Because of the importance of providing transparency over members’ interests to the House and the public, I have decided to include these late returns in this summary.

But there were other problems as well.  He apparently made some fundamental mistakes in his return.  From Derek Cheng at the Herald:

Seymour is commonly cited as owning no property in media stories about the number of MPs who own homes and multiple homes, while Parliament is scrutinised over its handling of the housing crisis.

“The fact that the average National MP owns 2.2 properties of their own might suggest why they’ve spent a lot of time introducing solutions that you’d almost suspect weren’t supposed to work – because they certainly haven’t,” Seymour told RNZ in May 2017.

He has also talked about being unable to afford a home in his electorate of Epsom, despite earning a six-figure salary.

The 2020 register of pecuniary interest shows Seymour as a beneficiary of three trusts: the NN Faithfull Family Trust, the BH & VA Seymour Family Trust, and the Beachcomber Trust.

The properties were held in the latter two trusts, Seymour said.

“The bit where I’ve made a mistake is where I just thought I don’t own any property and moved on. I should have read properly that if you’re a beneficiary of a trust that owns real property, then you must declare an interest.”

The oversight came to his attention as he was instructing Act’s new MPs about the register and what it covered, he said.

“As I was advising other people in our caucus, I thought, ‘Jeepers, actually, I need to think about what that means for my own.’

“Frankly, the whole thing’s ridiculous and I’ve been back and forth with the registrar about it. I wouldn’t ever put down that I own, for instance, my grandma’s beach house.

“The trusts are discretionary, and the trustees could very well choose to say, ‘Actually, you know what, David? Grandma and Poppa never really liked you. You’re out.’ The trust deeds are very clear that the trustees have absolute discretion.”

It is correct that Seymour declared the trusts in his return.

But he clearly did not read the instructions.

Clause 5 of the rules requires a MP to disclose:

(f) the location of real property in which the member has a legal interest, other than an interest as a trustee, and a description of the nature of the real
property, and
(g) the location of real property, and a description of the nature of the real property, held by a trust to which the following apply:
(i) the member is a beneficiary of it, and
(ii) the member knows or ought reasonably to know that the member is a beneficiary of it, and
(iii) it is not a unit trust whose name is disclosed under subclause (1)(d), and
(iv) it is not a retirement scheme whose membership is open to the public and whose name is disclosed under subclause (1)(h)

Seymour also forgot to disclose a Kiwisaver account that he held.  He should be more careful.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt the most obvious conclusion that can be drawn is that Seymour the lawmaker may not have a very good understanding of the complexities involved in his job.

And I would be more sympathetic to him but he is a member of a party that has done the tough on crime stuff for political jollies for a long time.  Their world view does not tolerate weaknesses.

No doubt his return will now be scrutinised in more detail.  I wonder if other problems will be found.

48 comments on “Can we trust David Seymour? ”

  1. Peter 1

    Of course we can trust David Seymour – trust him to be a grandstanding little knob. If Winston Peters or some Labour MP were in the same situation he would be front and centre screwing it for all it was worth.

    His sycophantic zb crew like Bruce Russell would be on board with their Boy Wonder booting hell out of whomever.

  2. Anne 2

    Giving him the benefit of the doubt the most obvious conclusion that can be drawn is that Seymour the lawmaker may not have a very good understanding of the complexities involved in his job.

    Yes, and when you add the arrogance of youth (iirc he was 23yrs old when he first entered parliament) then you have a good example of a 'know-all' lacking self awareness. Since he's owned up to his miss-steps then you have to give him a some points – even if he knew that if he didn't someone else would.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    “Jeepers…” Trust? I would trust Mr Seymour to ceaselessly support the parasite class of employers and finance capitalists-but little else!

    As per fellow underwear sniffers-The Taxpayers Union-Mr Seymour will likely exhibit zero shame at his being exposed on his property interests.

  4. AB 4

    We've never been able to trust David Seymour because his mind is seemingly stuffed full of an ideology that's divorced from reality. Which means that given sufficient power, there's always a decent chance he will unleash dumb and dangerous sh*t on his fellow citizens. This revelation about his property interests is merely additive, not defining. Also National clearly want their voters back from ACT – so the Herald will be happy to push a bit on this one.

  5. Sabine 5

    No one can not trust any politician.

    • The Al1en 5.1

      Do you mean 'no one can trust any politician'?

    • no-one?

      Please do not speak for everyone else.

      You have made a statement that is not proven to be anywhere near the truth.

      That shoots your credibility down a dozen notches.

      • Sabine 5.2.1

        I don't ever speak for anyone but me. Take that as you will and feel free to trust or not anyone whom you like.

        And considering that i have no idea who you are i shall not concern myself with your worry about my credibility. But i have noted your concern and shall continue as i was.

    • AB 5.3

      No one can not trust any politician.”

      Pretty much. However, that doesn't mean that they all pose an equal threat to us – they clearly don't and some are worth supporting for that reason.

  6. Ed 6

    Simple answer.


  7. David 7

    Another case of an Aunty Herald headline being divorced from the detail.

    So his grandparents and father each own a property to which he is the current future beneficiary when they die. Cool. So all those renters bemoaning the fact they can’t get on the property ladder are suddenly property owners too if they might one day inherit their parents or grandparents home. Property crisis solved. Fantastic news.

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    Seymour is what he is, a poor substitute for Rick Moranis.

    It is the trusts that need reforming – they confuse David's sense of responsibility, and likely his sense of tax liability. We need to help him live up to his responsibilities by clearing away the vehicle for this confusion.

    • Morrissey 8.1

      … a poor substitute for Rick Moranis.

      Who's he talking to—-Louise Upston?

      • Stuart Munro 8.1.1

        I expect it's someone called Audrey.

        But the question is – is Seymour the kind of guy who would make a Faustian pact, whereby he feeds the poor and the destitute to a man-eating alien monster to win the affections of his romantic object?

        I think that he probably is. Then again, so would all the Chicago Boys in Treasury.

        • Morrissey

          Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) does have a doppelgänger in the NZ parliament, but it's not David Seymour. It's the Rt. Hon. Paul Goldsmith.

          But the question is – is Seymour the kind of guy who would make a Faustian pact…

          He is indeed. He makes a Faustian pact every three years, when he sits down for a "cup of tea" with whoever is supposed to be leading the National Party.

  9. Jester 9

    The herald article clearly states his grand parents and father each own a property which is in a trust. David Seymour is only a beneficiary of the trusts, and may one day inherit some or part of the properties.

    My parents own a house in Auckland……….so does that make me an Auckland property owner?

    If my parents put the house in a trust and I was a beneficiary I still wouldn't own a house in Auckland.

    • Louis 9.1

      Misses the point. This sums it up

      • David 9.1.1

        Misses the point.

        Seymour doesn’t own a house. He happens to have parents and grandparents who do.

        Do we now expect Labour MPs to amend their declaration for the homes of their extended family that they might one day inherit?

        No, thought not.

        • Muttonbird

          We all want MPs to fill in their forms correctly, particularly ones who regularly use others' indiscretions in this area against them for political gain.

          Parliamentary watchdog is after all why ACT and its paramilitary wing, The Tax Dodgers’ Union, were founded.

        • Incognito

          Do we now expect Labour MPs to amend their declaration for the homes of their extended family that they might one day inherit?

          Yes, of course, we do, at least, I do. As long as they are in a Trust, those Labour MPs are beneficiaries of said Trust, and failed to declare those interests before and on time. Inheritance is not identical to being a beneficiary of a Trust. You know that, so why are you trolling?

          • RedLogix

            In reality many family trusts have often been run rather loosely, and the beneficiaries are either unaware of their potential interest, or the categories of beneficiaries are so widely defined that many simply discount that interest to zero.

            Yes there is a technical breech of a rule here, but one of no practical consequence as far as I know, and a mistake that's been corrected voluntarily. I really can't see any useful traction on this one.

            • Incognito

              That might indeed be the case but this is David Seymour, Leader of the ACT NZ, and MP since 2014. His filing was late and initially incorrect on a number of accounts. The traction is that his personal brand has been dented. Other than that, storm in a teacup.

        • Louis

          David, you missed the point.

    • Visubversa 9.2

      But you would have an interest in a house in Auckland – and that is what they ask you to reveal.

      [Second time: I’ve changed the e-mail address; it was the wrong combination of approved user name + approved e-mail address]

      • Incognito 9.2.1

        Mod note for you.

      • Jester 9.2.2

        How do I have an interest in my parents house? They may end up writing me out of the will for all I know. I remember reading an article about Chloe Swarbrick saying the most expensive thing she owns is a couch. Based on your logic, if her parents own a house, then I guess she needs to declare that.

        • Muttonbird

          Ridiculous and diversionary. Seymour's parents and grandparents deliberately put their houses into a trust arrangement to protect something from something. My guess is they are protecting little David from the big, bad Leftie.

          Meh. When you see such trusts you know there is no trust. Seymour is not an idiot despite you trying to convince us he is.

          David Seymour is simply, conveniently dishonest. As it ever was.

  10. Peter 10

    And misses the other point of the perpetual 'holier-than-thou' Seymour attitude.

  11. Byd0nz 11

    Sounds like a NZ version of Nalvarney.
    Next he’ll be claiming to be NZ’s main opposition bleader.

  12. Herodotus 12


    do you mean like our PM investing and increasing her wealth in companies that deal in weapons to Saudi Arabia should follow the same in being more careful given comments directed to Air NZ

    ”Seymour the lawmaker may not have a very good understanding of the complexities involved in his job.”

    I counter that with our speaker getting confused regarding what rape is ?

    Perhaps with these examples above we should be careful throwing stones 🤭 as we expect perhaps too much from them and are too unforgiving to all of them from all sides of the spectrum.

    [I was so looking forward to a day without moderating 🙁

    You’re right that (personal) attacks just for the sake of it or point scoring are rather pointless. Unfortunately, you didn’t do your argument any favours by going on the attack yourself. In addition, the #whatabout and #theydidittoo make you look like even more like a disingenuous diversion troll especially given the cherry-picked ‘examples’ that you offered and given that you insinuated equivalence across them, which is clearly misleading.

    The OP is hardly “throwing stones” and does mention the need for accountability and transparency with regard to MPs. It is crucial that David Seymour’s honesty, integrity, and ability to do his duty as MP are scrutinised. However, the topic of this OP is David Seymour, not any other MP or our PM.

    This is your warning – Incognito]

  13. woodart 13

    can you trust anyone who says "jeepers"? and is not auditioning for a role in jeeves and wooster.

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