A sound mandate takes Luxon to the battlefield

Our Leader in October 15, 2023 Digital Edition

Venkat Raman
Auckland, October 16, 2023

In handing over the country to Christopher Luxon and his National Party, New Zealanders now look forward to deliverance from the precipice of division and decay that they perceived had afflicted the Nation over the past six years.

They have however denied him the luxury of an absolute majority; in fact, it is likely that Mr Luxon would have to draw upon the support of New Zealand First and its charismatic leader Winston Peters, in addition to its natural ally, the ACT Party. That is if the current configuration of seats in Parliament continues to hold after the final results are declared on November 3, 2023.

ACT’s discomfort with NZ First

ACT Party Leader David Seymour had expressed his reservations about working with Mr Peters as he sees conflicts of ideology and method of working. However, with a dual alliance looking difficult, Mr Luxon would face Hobson’s choice of seeking the support of Mr Peters and his Party.

Although the success of the National Party was a foregone conclusion orchestrated by its rising approval ratings in various Opinion Polls (including our Polls which predicted an absolute majority), the results fell short of expectations. National is expected to have 50 seats in the next (54th Parliament), 16 seats more compared to its position in the now-dissolved Parliament. Since politics is always shrouded in uncertainty, the need for an assured majority is more pronounced today.

The ACT Party has achieved a remarkable victory winning 11 seats, the highest since its electoral fray in 1996. Mr Seymour himself won his seat in Epsom (not surprising) but the success of his Deputy Brooke van Velden in the National-strong Tamaki Constituency was stunning.

As the political climate settles down and as the new government commences its tasks, the people of New Zealand will begin to assess its performance and see how it fulfils its various promises.

The three parties that are likely to be in power- National, ACT and New Zealand First – have made pledges to do many things- ranging from ‘Let is get New Zealand back on track’ and ‘We need a Change’ to ‘Let us get New Zealand back’- and the people who voted for them would like to know how these are being fulfilled.

Right, Left and Centre

Right-leaning governments such as National and ACT are known for their anti-federalist outlook; they prefer smaller government, less regulation, most services to be provided by the private sector in a free market, and a literal interpretation of the Constitution. They also believe that governments should tax less, spend less and cut spending to balance the budget. According to them, higher income earners should have incentives to invest (credits) and charity should be people’s responsibility.

Left-wing governments are federalists and they prefer more regulation and services like free universal health care to be provided by the government to all citizens. They believe that governments should provide more services to the less fortunate (like health care) and increase taxes if necessary. High-income earners should pay a larger percentage of their income as taxes.

Experience here and elsewhere has proved that when an election can make a difference, turnout rises. On that score, Election 2023 may not have created history.

Performance and Assessment

In his Victory Speech on the night of October 14, Mr Luxon promised a better and more stable future for the country and the economy.

“Our government will deliver for every New Zealander. We will rebuild the economy and deliver tax relief,” he said as his supporters gave him a thunderous applause.

Tax incentives, improving law and order, tougher sentencing for convicted criminals and repeat offenders, delivery of better health services, higher standards of education and most important of all, benevolent governance are issues on which he and his Party have secured a good mandate.

Mr Luxon will learn the nuances of running a successful foreign policy like his predecessors had done and set in motion free-trade agreements with the US, India and other friendly countries. He would have the able hand of his ministers, advisors and good trade negotiators in achieving the objectives for New Zealand.

National’s opponents purported that it had no vision for the future, while the Party stuck relentlessly to its message of guiding the economy through troubled times and giving it stability; a message which obviously resonated with the electorate.

We would hope that Mr Luxon would be adept at these tasks, for as a businessman and corporate executive for long and as the leader of a Party in waiting, he would have acquired the acumen to handle day-to-day issues with dexterity and ruthlessness that the job would demand. He would learn the rest through experience. He would also come to realise that the environment in the opposition benches is different to what prevails in the treasury benches. This in effect gives vent to the dictum that ‘the wearer alone knows where the shoe pinches.’

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