18 Jan 2024

National expected to instill need for discipline at caucus retreat

11:20 am on 18 January 2024
Christopher Luxon at a media stand up in Auckland on 21 November 2023.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is expected to address the caucus this afternoon. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

National's bolstered caucus will spend the next two days focused on ensuring its large cohort of new MPs are prepared for the party's first full year back in government.

National MPs have gathered in Christchurch for the party's first annual caucus retreat since being elected in October.

No announcements are expected during the three-day event, with the coalition government still implementing its 100-day plan.

National will instead focus on its first-time MPs, who make up more than a third of the party's caucus.

It's understood the party will be instilling the need for discipline on its MPs during the annual caucus retreat.

There will also be a focus on team building and ensuring National's 19 new MPs have all the information needed to do the job.

During previous caucus retreats, National MPs have heard from guest speakers, like Australia's former foreign minister Julie Bishop and former British Conservative politician George Osborne, but no one has been lined up to speak at this year's event.

The gathering will be Prime Minister Christopher Luxon's first major appearance for 2024. He arrived in Christchurch last night for an informal BBQ with his MPs.

Nicola Willis

Deputy National leader Nicola Willis. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Deputy National leader Nicola Willis told Morning Report the retreat allowed the party to make progress on the economy, law and order, and education and health services.

"All our MPs have ideas about how to achieve that, so it's a chance for us to talk about it together."

Willis said discipline within the caucus was one of the most important elements of it being able to deliver for people.

"New Zealanders don't want us focused on ourselves, they want us focused on getting things done for them."

National would be setting its expectations for MPs, and telling them what being a good MP looked like and how it would be evaluated and monitored.

Asked about support given to MPs in the wake of former Green MP Golriz Ghahraman's shoplifting allegations and statement about mental health struggles, Willis said it was important to highlight it was available.

She said MPs needed to know that if they had concerns, there were ways of dealing with them and the retreat gave an opportunity to tell them exactly how to get extra support.

Luxon will address the National caucus on Thursday afternoon and is expected to discuss the year ahead and the issues his government will be focused on.

He will also likely face questions from reporters about the upcoming national hui, due to be held at Tuurangawaewae Marae on Saturday.

Late last year, the Kiingitanga called for the hui to be held to discuss the coalition government's plans for Māori.

Iwi across the country are set to work out a unified response to the coalition government's policies.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon will not be attending the hui, but met with Kiingi Tuuheitia on Monday.

The National Party will be represented at the hui by Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka and Dan Bidois.

Willis said the hui was an opportunity to listen, engage and understand what communities were wanting to see from the government.

Described by New Zealand First deputy leader Shane Jones as a "moan session", Willis said the government shared some of those moans when it came to the high cost of living and failure of public services.

These issue were "exactly what we were elected to fix", Willis said.

"We're very keen to work with Māori, to work with iwi to solve those problems."

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