Luxon is advised to take the Nats back to founding principles – and promise a government that is not divisive

The National  caucus,  suddenly,  seemed transformed.  Whereas under  Judith Collins  it  had been split into warring factions, under  Christopher Luxon (at first blush) it  is  presenting  a  united front. Those   factions quickly  fell   into   step, adopting   Luxon’s  new-page philosophy.

But  has  the Ardern  government much  to  fear?  After all, Labour has a  leader who  dominates  the  centre  ground of  NZ politics, who succeeded in pulling across  400,000  voters to the party just  a  year  ago, and  who  still  draws  crowds  wherever  she  goes, (albeit now  with  some protesters, too).

National’s new  leader,  by comparison,  has  had  only a  year  in Parliament and  his  talents  have  remained,  some  would  say,  hidden   largely  from the public view.

Yet  some  clues   have emerged   as  the  party  undergoes   what  has been  labelled  the  “re-set”, even  if  Luxon’s opponents revelled  in his   early  stumbles   in  the  House.

What  ordinary  New  Zealanders  want  to see is  an  Opposition presenting  not just a united front or one  that has  turned the page on its previous  squabbling but a party that is refreshed  and  delivering  a  range  of  answers to the mounting problem confronting NZ.

In  front of the  cameras  and an array  of  journalists, Luxon  has  been articulate, relaxed and  genial.  In reshaping  the  National   team he  has   demonstrated  the  skill  which  he  displayed  in  previous lives in  the   business  world.

Whether  he  has  succeeded  in impressing on  the  new team just what  a mountain  it   has  to  climb, unaccustomed as  it is  to the  hard grind  of opposition politics, is  uncertain.

Take for  example,  the  erosion  of  support  for  National  in   what  used to  be  labelled  its  heartland:  the  regions.

Luxon  himself seems  to think National  has  ready-made  solutions  ranging  through climate  change goals, agricultural  methane emissions, immigration, and productivity  against   what  Labour is offering to revive voting enthusiasm  for his  party  in the  regions.

The  kind of  boardroom  rhetoric he  thinks  might  do it won’t  fly.

Luxon – in  his  first  appearance in Parliament as leader – was  upstaged   by  ACT  leader  David  Seymour in  attacking  the  government, and  he  certainly  needs better  preparation before  engaging in hand-to-hand combat across  the floor of  the  House if he is  to  lower  the  Ardern  halo.

Once  he  has  shown  he  can match the  PM in  the  House,  and  hopefully  secured  the  bounce  in the polls that  marks  the advent of   a  new  leader,   he can start  presenting an updated policy  agenda, which  the  party  faithful  was  disconcerted  to  find was  absent  when Simon Bridges   and Judith Collins were at the  helm.

Luxon  has  the  advantage now  that the  public   is  running  out  of  patience   as  the  government    fumbles with  MIQ, the  traffic lights  system,  and  checkpoints  in Northland.

As  Richard Prebble puts  it,  Labour  has terrible  ideas. Inflation, he  points out, is rising because Labour’s only economic idea was  to print money.

He says Labour is  failing not  just because it  lacks  management  experience,  but  because  it has  a socialist  agenda.

Prebble  contends  that  what  NZ  needs is for  National  to  re-discover  the  party’s  founding  principles,  to provide  sound  economic management  and  a  government  that does  not divide  us by  class, race, gender  and  age.

As  Point  of  Order  sees  it, the  country  can be  reasonably  certain   that Luxon  can  provide  sound economic  management  and   he  has  already indicated  that  he  has  some  progressive  ideas  on how to adapt  climate  change policy  to  the  country’s  advantage.

There  have  also   been  signals   that he has  fresh  ideas  on  productivity   and in  fostering  new  opportunities   for hi-tech  industries.  This  is  the  sector  which   can   give living  standards  the sharpest  boost   and  at  the same time  propel NZ’s main  export  industries to become  more  productive.

Under  Labour, NZ   has seen a  larger  share  of  GDP   being  devoted  to  house-building  and less  to the  business investment  required to  support  growth in  productivity  and incomes.  That’s  what’s  holding  back the higher  living standards  NZers  aspire  too  and why other  countries  are  growing  faster.

Luxon  only has  to  tour   the  queues   at  foodbanks   at  Christmas time   to  make  his point.

One thought on “Luxon is advised to take the Nats back to founding principles – and promise a government that is not divisive

  1. What New Zealanders want is hope, which the COVID Queen cannot offer. All Labour offer is division, as seen for example in the segregationist Pae Ora bill currently before Parliament. Luxon must present a clear contrast as a unifier with sound, new ideas to get New Zealand out of its tailspin.

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