Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Luxon named as leadership contender

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Recently deposed National Party leader Judith Collins, second from left, during a recent visit to Howick with her colleagues, from left, Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, List MP Melissa Lee, and Botany MP Christopher Luxon. Times photo Wayne Martin

East Auckland’s two National Party MPs are tight-lipped on who they believe should replace ousted former leader Judith Collins.

Collins was dumped by her party’s caucus on November 25 after suffering a motion of no-confidence.

Her deputy leader, Dr Shane Reti, is serving as interim party leader, with Collins’ replacement to be chosen by the party’s MPs in a caucus meeting in Wellington on November 30.

Among the people being named as potential new leaders is Botany MP Christopher Luxon, who entered Parliament at the 2020 general election.

Luxon has not publicly stated he intends to stand for the leadership.

He declined to comment to the Times.

A spokesperson for Luxon says: “Christopher has no comment to make as the party leadership is a matter for the Caucus to discuss on Tuesday [November 30].”

Before entering politics Luxon was the chief executive of Air New Zealand for seven years.

He and his wife Amanda have two children.

Luxon was born in Christchurch and grew up in Howick.

He attended schools in east Auckland including Cockle Bay School and Howick College and studied business at the University of Canterbury before an 18-year stint working at global consumer goods company Unilever.

His roles with the business include as president and chief executive of Unilever Canada.

Luxon returned to New Zealand in 2011 to run Air New Zealand.

He’s the National Party’s spokesperson for Land Information; Local Government, Research, Science and Manufacturing; and associate spokesperson for the Transport portfolio.

He also serves on Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee.

In his role as Local Government spokesperson Luxon has been a leading opponent of the Government’s Three Waters reforms of the management of New Zealand’s waste, storm, and drinking water.

He was also outspoken against the Government’s recently scrapped plan to build a $785 million cycle bridge across the Waitemata Harbour.

Luxon has been active on numerous local issues in east Auckland since entering Parliament.

He’s working with residents to address issues caused by speeding drivers in Cockle Bay and with fellow MP Simeon Brown has campaigned to have police retain a physical presence in Howick and to stop the sale of local Auckland Council-owned public reserves.

The turmoil that led to the National Party’s leadership becoming vacant began on November 24 when Collins revealed in a late-night media release she’d demoted Tauranga MP, and former National leader, Simon Bridges and stripped him of his parliamentary portfolios.

Collins said her decision stemmed from an allegation of “serious misconduct” relating to Bridges and an interaction he’d had with a female caucus colleague.

It was later revealed the incident in question happened five years earlier and related to Bridges making a crass joke while talking to other MPs about wanting to conceive a baby daughter with his wife.

Collins’ demotion of Bridges led to an emergency National Party caucus meeting the following morning in which her colleagues passed a motion of no-confidence in her and her subsequent removal as leader.

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown says the caucus made a decision about the leadership and “we accept that decision”.

“I acknowledge the great work Judith has done as our leader and acknowledge the challenging job she’s had.

“Now the caucus will be meeting on Tuesday to choose a new leader.”

Brown declined to state who he believes should be the party’s new leader.

He says the party has gone through a “very difficult time” and its MPs have a decision to make next Tuesday.

“Our job is to make that decision and then focus on the issues that matter to New Zealanders.

“Health, education, responding to Covid-19, keeping our streets safe, and growing the economy.

“We are absolutely focused on doing that.”

And Brown says he believes the National Party can win the next general election, scheduled for 2023.

“New Zealand needs a National Government.

“New Zealand needs a Government that will ensure we can secure our economic future.

“That we can come out of Covid in a strong position and give everyone the opportunities they need so they can have the New Zealand they want for their children and grandchildren.”

Being talked about also as potential party leadership candidates along with Luxon are Bridges, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell, List MPs Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis, and Reti.

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