23 Jan 2023

New Labour leadership much of the same, opposition says

11:20 am on 23 January 2023
Christopher Luxon

National Party leader Christopher Luxon. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The leader of the opposition says New Zealand needs a government who "can get things done" but would not go as far as to say he would beat the new prime minister in this year's election.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon told Morning Report the Labour Party was much the same despite new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins taking over from Jacinda Ardern.

"He can say what he wants but the reality is, it's the same staff, same team, same people, same outcome," Luxon said.

"It's a party that is frankly out of touch with New Zealanders. When you see rapidly rising food prices, you've seen business and farmer confidence at all time lows, interest rates going through the roof, schools costs, this is a party that has actually lost touch and is out of touch with New Zealanders."

Luxon said the word "co-governance" had been "co-opted" and the government had not made it clear to New Zealanders what it meant by co-governance.

He said the Treaty of Waitangi was about bringing everyone together as one people.

Carmel Sepuloni and Chris Hipkins

Newly elected Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

He did not support having separate healthcare systems and education systems.

"We believe we are one people. We can have one system with innovation that targets people in need."

When asked if National would support ACT's proposal for a referendum on the treaty if it were to go into government with it, Luxon said it would be "divisive" and he did not support it.

Luxon reiterated his stance on Three Waters - saying Hipkins should repeal it.

The election on 14 October would be "close", Luxon said, but he would not go as far as saying he would win against Hipkins.

When asked more than once if he could beat Hipkins, Luxon did not give a straight answer.

"We are going to have a very close election, no doubt about it.

"We need to change this country and we need a government that can get things done and that's what I am going to do."

Debbie Ngawera-Packer

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngawera-Packer. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngawera-Packer told First Up Hipkins was a "guy I get on with" but he had a lot to learn.

Not being able to quote three articles of the treaty when asked by media was a "concern".

"He's going to have to skill up really fast and prove that he's committed to advancing Māori and I think those are certainly some of the challenges we will be putting to him."

Ngawera-Packer said it was disappointing not to see a Māori prime minister or deputy prime minister elected.

Being the largest Māori caucus, she said it was a "missed opportunity" and showed that the sole focus of the Labour Party was trying to get through to the election.

Having made such a quick decision, it shut out any other opportunities, she said.

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