Luxon keen on a credible, strong alternative government

Jo Moir

Jo Moir

Queenstown, February 4, 2022

                                             

                                                                 National Party Leader Christopher Luxon speaking to Media in Queenstown (Newshub Photo)

 

Christopher Luxon desires to fix the National Party that steered him towards Parliament. It speaks to a game plan that took him from backbench MP to Leader in just 13 months. He is convinced the party’s internal culture problem is on the mend.

In an interview with Newsroom at the Party’s caucus retreat in Queenstown, he said, “People orientate very quickly around the expectations of a new leader.”

Modelling the behaviour

He is set on modelling the behaviour the Party needs to win in 2023.

“People will say, ‘That is different from how it used to be’ but then they will get on board and follow,” he said.

Luxon wants the “reality show of the National Party’’ put behind the Caucus as it turns its attention to the seven quarters ahead in the run-up to the election.

“We have been playing Cricket but have not been on the pitch. We have been sitting in the changing rooms, fighting with each other,’’ he said.

Luxon pinpointed a couple of areas where he thinks that culture improvements in both the Caucus and the wider party can be made.

“I am already working with the Party directly to say first-and-foremost that I want a code of behaviour for members and MPs and a dispute resolutions process. We are drawing a line in the sand and saying that going forward this is what we are going to do.’’

Former Leader Judith Collins said that she is excited about the year ahead and has moved on from last year.

Luxon said that he was not part of a faction in the National Party when he joined, although some would argue the newbie MPs of 2020 were their own faction. That has put him in a position where he can pick up the phone and discuss an issue if he can see someone has sensitivities.

“I am quite non-hierarchical and I will pick up the phone to anyone,’’ he said.

 

National Party Leader Christopher Luxon with his Deputy Nicola Willis (Newshub Photo)
 

Changing Parliamentary Culture

Luxon is fully supportive of the recommendations from the Debbie Francis review into Parliament’s workplace culture, sparked by allegations of bullying and abuse of power.

“There is no choice on the Debbie Francis Review, we need to be relaxed on that. I don’t give a toss what they think about that, we are doing it,’’ he said.

Luxon admits that the Party was in “a lot worse” shape than he realised when he joined the Caucus in October 2020,

Asked how he wants voters to perceive him, he said, “They will say that Chris Luxon knows how to get things done and that he is highly competent and fundamentally he cares deeply about people. That’s it, that’s why I came, that’s why I love doing turnaround jobs because that’s the challenge.

He said that he does not that he doesn’t shy away from making the tough calls but acknowledges that he’s the type of guy who ‘likes to be liked.’

“I am a people-person and I am a big extrovert.’’

No-Confidence against Collins

Luxon said that there was plenty of commentary about when he should run for the leadership, and why it was too early to step up, but in the end, those choices were taken away when the Caucus voted no-confidence in former leader Judith Collins.

“We’ve ended up where we’ve ended up, is it the right time or wrong time? I don’t really care – it’s what was needed.’

“I used to say to Amanda (his wife) when I first started at Parliament, ‘It is going to be a great week this week I can feel it, what a special place to be.’ Then you would get in there and there would be some discussion on some minutiae or something else and it would be like, ‘Right, let us start again next week; next week will be a better week.”

As for the next steps, Luxon said that they would be about creating a “Credible strong alternative government.”

That means not just opposing ideas for the sake of it, but also proposing new ones to “build trust back’’ with voters.

“What I want from our MPs is that they should not become institutionalised to Wellington and think that their wood-panelled office is where things get done. We cannot be an old crusty National Party; we have to reinvent this Party,’’ he said.

Jo Moir is the Political Editor of Newsroom based in Wellington. The above article has been published under a Special Agreement.

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