Only weeks into becoming leader of the National Party, Christopher Luxon has succeeded in pulling together his troops and at the same time re-shaping the message he thinks is needed to attract back the 413,000 voters who drifted away in the last election. The question is whether he can pitch the message to haul back some of those who voted for Labour in 2017 on the basis of their promises, but have since realised Labour ministers don’t have the ability or capacity to deliver them.
Initially there was some uncertainty that Luxon, with only a year behind him as an MP, could unify the faction-ridden National caucus. But he settled those doubts impressively at the two-day retreat at Queenstown, not least with his two warring predecessors, Judith Collins and Simon Bridges, showing up to breathe a new spirit of sweetness and light by the lakeside.
NZ co-ops have been getting a bad media rap lately. Take Fonterra, for example. Andrea Fox, one of the country’s best-informed journalists specialising in agriculture issues, started a new series in the NZ Herald with the headline: “Fonterra: Disappointment and soured dairy dreams”.
Noting the dairy goliath had a silver-spoon birth nearly 18 years ago she wrote:
“Today the co-operative is looking a bit like the family’s overweight, lazy teenager hogging the remote on the biggest couch in the room And the credit card bills are coming in”.
The government is reported to be planning a “world-first well-being” budget in 2019. It won’t be some “light, fluffy happiness index”, but will be based, says Finance Minister Grant Robertson, on indicators and measures of well-being which can be tracked.
It sounds a great idea. The government sees it as running in tandem with the current measurement of GDP growth, which according to Robertson is a good, long-run measure of economic activity. But he reckons GDP doesn’t represent what New Zealanders regard as success. He believes success should be measured not just through financial capital (by GDP), but through natural capital, human capital and social capital.
Mr John Edward Rowles, OBE, was in splendid company on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. His name, “for services to entertainment”, came immediately after the name of the Right Honourable Simon William English, “for services to the State” among those who become Knight Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Rowles has belted out a few hits over the years, most notably “If I Only had Time”, while Bill English is the bloke widely credited with giving us “the rockstar economy”.
As Finance Minister from 2008 until 2016, Mr English oversaw one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world, steering New Zealand through the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes and ensuring the Crown accounts were in a strong financial position.