31 Jan 2022

Luxon looks to build early momentum at National assembly

5:25 am on 31 January 2022

National MPs will spend today and tomorrow in Queenstown navigating the best way forward under the leadership of Christopher Luxon, as Aotearoa readies for a third year battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

After a nightmare few years, during which public support and confidence dramatically eroded, Luxon has a big job on his hands.

Former British prime minister David Cameron was set to open proceedings; Covid-19 has intervened, however, and after he tested positive, his former chancellor of the exchequer and close political friend George Osborne will give the address instead.

All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen.

Steve Hansen Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The caucus retreat will be wrapped up with former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen speaking about high performance teams. Businesswoman Traci Houpapa will also lead a discussion about Crown/Māori relations, as well as senior MPs on key portfolio areas and a leader's address from Luxon.

In response to some "pretty silly and unwise" actions from MP Harete Hipango Luxon said his expectations of caucus were "crystal clear ... about the standards we expect".

"People are much more fixated and interested in New Zealand at the moment around inflation and why they're going backwards with the cost of living going twice as fast as their wages," he told reporters late last week.

It will also be Judith Collins' first public showing alongside her caucus colleagues after losing last year's confidence vote, and the leadership.

Improved performance and a sharper focus in each portfolio will be the main messages over the two-day retreat, with Luxon wanting to draw a line under the past few years.

"Our job is to make sure that the team is firing, people are focused on what they need to do and opposing the government, as hopefully you've seen in a constructive way around rapid antigen tests ... but equally also proposing ideas for the course of the year."

National goes into these two days with an encouraging, if not spectacular, showing in the 1 News Kantar poll, including Luxon's results in the Preferred Prime Minister's stakes and his approval ratings when lined up against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

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