30 Nov 2021

National's new leader Christopher Luxon talks to Checkpoint

From Checkpoint, 5:50 pm on 30 November 2021

Relatively new entrant to Parliament, former Unilever and Air NZ boss Christopher Luxon has landed the job as leader of the National Party.

The situation vacant sign went up last week when Judith Collins was tossed out of the job after a no confidence vote, which was called when she demoted Simon Bridges over inappropriate comments he made several years ago.

Bridges was also vying for the leadership but bowed out of the race only a few hours before Tuesday's caucus meeting.

Luxon is in favour of banning gay conversion therapy but steadfast in his views on abortion.

He told Checkpoint National now wants to support legislation to ban conversion therapy after opposing it at its first reading in Parliament earlier this year.

He described the practice as "abhorrent" however, he is awaiting the outcome of select committee hearings before deciding whether there will be a conscience vote on it. 

On abortion, he said his pro-life stance should not be a big issue because abortion was decriminalised last year.

He said his deputy, Nicola Willis, is pro-choice. 

"The important thing is we can hold those different views ...respect those views." 

He refused to answer a question on whether abortion is murder, saying the party held a range of views on the subject. 

Referring to the difference between political and business leadership, Luxon said the biggest difference is the content and processes. 

He said content is easy enough to learn but he has to build a team and get the best out of each person and get the culture right - important for both a leader and a prime minister. 

"Fundamentally, define and solve your problems, get some results... - and actually that's what the National Party needs and also it's what frankly New Zealand needs." 

Asked how he would handle having three former leaders in caucus, he said what had been good about the last four days was having honest conversations - agreeing that the old ways were "completely dysfunctional" for the party and it was time for a reset. 

"We all decided to do that. That's what's reflected in an uncontested leadership situation that we've just come through."

His caucus conversations have not focused on "what's in it for me" which was important for building a high-performing team. 

Luxon confirmed he has not promised roles to anyone except Willis.

He told Checkpoint he owns seven homes and said John Key is his favourite former New Zealand prime minister. 

Asked to nominate his KPI, he said winning the 2023 general election. 

Will he resign if that doesn't happen? 

He replied that he preferred to focus on the here and now and turning around National's fortunes. 

"I'm here for a long time."

You can hear more of Luxon's answers to questions in the video or audio above.