Party sharpens up ACT's look

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2014

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ACT is to shrug off Rodney Hide's canary yellow jacket with a bold new look to be unveiled at next weekend's party conference.

New leader Jamie Whyte has opted to tone down the party's signature colour to a more "muted" shade of yellow.

The annual conference will take place at Auckland's Villa Maria estate next weekend - and the party are dubbing it "the Thriller at the Villa". Whyte said the theme is "the relaunch."

He beat former president John Boscawen to the leadership last month and the party is trying to improve on its poor showing at the 2011 election.

The latest Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll placed them on 0.5 per cent earlier this month, up slightly from a November survey (0.1 per cent).

"We are not having a major change of the image, but maybe some small ones," Whyte said. "We are not changing the name or anything but it may be a different shade. It may not be quite as vibrant."

ACT have campaigned under a yellow banner since the party was formed in 1994. In the 2008 election campaign former leader Rodney Hide took to wearing a yellow blazer. He was told off by the Electoral Commission who declared it may be an "election advertisement" and therefore required an authorising statement.

Guest speaker at the conference is Tim Wilson, Australia's human rights commissioner. "He is ideologically one of us, a free markets kind of a guy. And the left in Australia have all gone potty because he has been made the human rights commissioner. I imagine he will be the highlight," Whyte said.

Also on the bill is multi-millionaire donor Alan Gibbs, who hosted last year's conference at his Kaipara Harbour farm.

The "Right Thinking" conference is also a farewell for John Banks, who will formally step down from the leader's role. He is to retire from Parliament at the election as he defends charges of allegedly filing a false electoral return after his failed 2010 campaign to be Auckland's mayor.

As in previous years, law and order lobby Sensible Sentencing Trust will be represented, with spokeswoman Ruth Money delivering a speech on "policies that work". Whyte said that he backs tough deterrents but law and order is now not one of the party's policy priorities.

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