29 Nov 2023

Watch: PM Christopher Luxon speaks at first post-Cabinet press conference

3:56 pm on 29 November 2023

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, at his first post-Cabinet media briefing, says the government's work has started today in an "ambitious" programme.

He began the briefing with a cheerful "Well, kia ora, good afternoon everybody", he said, "welcome to what is our very first press conference in the beginning of the 54th Parliament.

"I have to say it's been a very busy three days for our new coalition government which was sworn in on Monday ... it was a really special occasion for myself and I think for all my ministers that were sworn in on Monday."

Christopher Luxon

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

He said he laid out his expectations of his ministers in yesterday's initial Cabinet meeting, "and reminded them of why were are all here, which is to deliver and get things done for the New Zealand people".

"The last few years have been incredibly hard for so many New Zealanders, almost everyone is struggling with the cost of living. Just today we've seen again the Reserve Bank warning that high inflation means interest rates may have to be raised."

Luxon said the government's work started today, "because today I am outlining our work plan for this coalition government's first 100 days in office. It is ambitious but it is necessary in order to bring about the relief to New Zealanders who have been doing it tough for way too long".

"Put simply, that means more money in your pocket, safer homes and workplaces, better, faster and more reliable healthcare, and an education for your children that delivers them the better choices for their futures."

Peters' media comments 'fine' and 'acceptable'

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has attacked media on more than one occasion since Monday, prompting opposition leader Chris Hipkins to say Luxon had already lost control of his government.

Luxon laughed when asked about Peters' bribery comments, which centred on the Public Interest Journalism Fund.

"Look, it's not the way I would describe it but I don't actually support the fund either," Luxon said.

"What I'd just say to you though is we are now in a coalition government ... there'll be different personalities, there'll be different ways of expressing things, it may not be the way I would express everything all the time but it's important everyone understands that."

"Yes, we're going to say things in different ways, as different leaders and as different members of that team as a coalition government and that's fine, that acceptable."

Asked if he found Peters' remarks acceptable, Luxon said it was "not the way that I would have expressed it but I understand the frustration with the fund as many New Zealanders do as well.

"There was different criteria that was actually put to actually using those funds, we have a difference of opinion about that, and there's lots of people with different views about that. I just don't think it was a good idea or a good programme."

He said it led to perceptions of bias - rightly or wrongly - and "whether that's real or not, doesn't really matter. That's the perception that it creates".

Peters' comments were "not at all" a distraction from more important work, Luxon said.

"Honestly, we have serious challenges in this country and we are focused on those things. And so personalities and being able to build within a team of a diverse range of views, a diverse range of personalities, is a good thing."

He finished his first Cabinet meeting on the same note as he started it, with ambition.

"I just put it to you, I don't think there has been any previous government that's been as aggressive about getting out of the blocks hard, fast and early in order to deliver for the New Zealand people, because we are over the talk," he said.

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