5 Nov 2019

Christopher Luxon suggests extension of 'no jab, no pay' policy

12:13 pm on 5 November 2019

The National Party's candidate for Botany, Christopher Luxon, has spoken out about his personal take on the three major conscience issues going through Parliament at the moment.

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Former Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon. Photo: RNZ

Mr Luxon won the candidacy last night by a vote of party delegates in the east Auckland electorate, beating current list MP Agnes Loheni, Katrina Bungard, Troy Elliott, and Jake Bezzant.

He will contest the seat held by Jami-Lee Ross, now an independent, who quit National in explosive fashion last year.

Speaking to reporters last night after his selection, Mr Luxon said he was against voluntary euthanasia, recreational cannabis and abortion reform - but is in favour of medicinal cannabis.

He told Morning Report today that he was against voluntary euthanasia because he was pro-life. But he said he could be swayed by what his constituents think.

"I'd be against capital punishment, I'd be against euthanasia and abortion and my personal view is I'm opposed to the reforms.

"But what I am committed to is that I'm now a representative, and as a result I need to be able to hear and get the views of the community that I represent, so for me over the coming year that'll be a really important thing."

On the other hand, he said the reforms were not the talking point right now.

"They aren't the major issues people are talking about, they're talking about transport, they're talking about cost of living, they're talking about being able to get back home to their kids, they're talking about law and order, they're talking about infrastructure."

Speaking on National's social services discussion document released last week, Mr Luxon told Morning Report he backed the view of a "no jab, no pay" policy for solo parent beneficiaries.

"It's about a notion of rights and responsibilities. If you want to be part of New Zealand and a civil society, you have certain inalienable rights but you also have responsibilities for the collective and in helping the collective of New Zealand."

Asked if that policy should be extended to working families too, he said it was a principle that needed to go across all of social and public policy.

"It should [extend that far] ... that's hypothetical. What you're asking me about is a principle and what I'm saying is when you go through all the tactical issues around public policy and social policy, I want to be guided by principle and the principle very much is about rights and responsibilities.

"For example, there's been a reduction in sanctions around people receiving benefits. If you don't show up for a job interview six or seven times, we have to have those kinds of conversations, because the New Zealand taxpayer is helping someone whose in a vulnerable and difficult situation, but they have a responsibility on their own personal case to actually do the best that they can."

Education Minister Chris Hipkins told Morning Report that he believed Mr Luxon's remark on the policy hinted at his future ambitions.

"He's clearly after Simon Bridges' job in suggesting that Simon Bridges hasn't been going far enough in his policy pronouncements ... it reminds me a little bit of Don Brash when he came in and started making policy pronouncements over the top of Bill English and I suspect the National Party have got all sorts of internal troubles.

"I think if he can maintain a positive stance - that's pretty rare in the National Party at the moment - then he may well do well in Parliament. But I think the best he could aspire to is leader of the opposition."

However, Mr Luxon said he was focused on the Botany electorate at the moment and delivering to the locals.

"I'm really joining this process with much learn from lots of different people, I really want to make sure that we deliver for the people of Botany, it's an important area, it's a big area."

He said he believed that Simon Bridges was an outstanding leader, and the goal was to have the party re-elected in 2020 under Mr Bridges.

Mr Hipkins acknowledged Mr Luxon as talented and "very constructive and helpful", when working alongside him on the reform of vocational legislation as part of the prime minister's business advisory council.

"I think he's got a lot to offer the Parliament, I hope he doesn't get afflicted by the relentless negativity of the National Party."

The Botany electorate has elected a National Party candidate by a large majority each election since its establishment in 2008 - first Pansy Wong and then, since 2011, Jami-Lee Ross.

After a firestorm of National Party drama late last year, Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross will run as an independent. He said he had more to offer locals as an independent than a rookie MP sitting on the backbenches.

Mr Ross told Morning Report Mr Luxon, who doesn't live in the electorate, did not have the connection with the community that he did.

He said he has advocated for Botany, which he lives in, for 15 years, and loves the community.

"I think if you go and ask the people of Botany who the National candidate is or who Chris Luxon is, they probably wouldn't know because a connection with the community is built over many years.

"You cannot just walk into a seat and think that people automatically know you, you have to earn their respect and you have to earn their trust and build a connection with that community.

"When it comes to this election though, whoever the National candidate is, it does not faze me, it almost doesn't interest me, I'm focused locally, I'm focused on getting the best things I can done for this electorate and I'll continue doing that."

Mr Luxon last night noted that Botany was a part of him, having grown up there and attending local schools like Cockle Bay Primary and Howick College. He told Morning Report he did not live that far away from Botany, and irrespective of his location would be just as committed if elected.

Mr Ross said he had spent the past nine months speaking to people face-to-face about whether he should continue on, and the overwhelming response had been that he's worked hard and should carry on.

By voting for him, people in Botany could get the "best of both worlds", he said.

"Botany has an opportunity to continue having local representation, MMP as such too that people can vote for the party that they want to run for the country, and then they can vote for the best advocate on the ground locally with their candidate vote.

"Botany is in a unique position now, it's the most marginal seat in the country, they have in me someone who's been on the ground for 15 years and they also have the ability with MMP to vote strategically.

Mr Ross said regardless of what party voters would cast their ballot to, he would be able to work with them.

"I'm already working with both sides at the moment... I can get things done more so than a backbencher who has to toe a party line."

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