As the election draws closer the National Party leader is jetting off on a policy-finding mission, writes political editor Jo Moir
Christopher Luxon is in the final stages of announcing his campaign team for next year and which MPs will be sticking around to contest the election.
A campaign chair, campaign director and social media partner have all been appointed and will be announced in the coming months, as will selection processes for electorates across the country.
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has already announced she will be retiring at next year’s election, and she won’t be the last with Luxon telling Newsroom, “There will be others ”.
Each one of the National’s MPs will be bracing themselves for another round of performance reviews in the second half of this year, but that won’t be the catalyst for a reshuffle.
Unlike the Prime Minister, who has already announced she will do a major reshuffle at the start of next year, Luxon says his MPs are constantly under review.
“We’ll just make the adjustments as we need to go… if there’s a problem or someone’s not firing in the right way they get the feedback, we get the coaching into them, we get that sorted,” Luxon told Newsroom.
He is happy to move MPs in and out of portfolios at any point, which he accepts isn’t how things are usually done in politics.
“I just think if you haven’t got the right person on the right assignment, or you think there’s a different emphasis you want to put on it you just change it as you need to.”
Luxon says he’s taking the same approach to policy and will propose ideas in response to what is happening domestically, or internationally, while also working on more in-depth policy ahead of the election.
That broader policy work will see him fly to Singapore next week, and then on to Dublin and London for a 10-day mission to gather new ideas.
“There’s no substitute for getting on an airplane and going around and seeing people and building relationships – that’s what the job is.” – Christopher Luxon
He wants all his MPs to be getting out of Wellington.
“It’s not where things are going to be happening frankly.”
For that reason, he completely supports Jacinda Ardern’s rolling maul of overseas travel and engagement and wants to see Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta join her.
“In the Prime Minister’s case we want her out in the world as our number one salesperson.
“I’ve been very supportive of her getting out and about, it’s necessary because we’re well behind the eight ball in terms of our relationships.”
He said Mahuta also needs to be more active in the region.
“There’s no substitute for getting on an airplane and going around and seeing people and building relationships – that’s what the job is,” Luxon says.
For National it’s a case of finding policy ideas in other parts of the world Luxon says he can “steal with pride”.
In Singapore he plans to study how its infrastructure program is planned and actioned.
A visit to Dublin will center on how Ireland’s embracing technology and foreign direct investment to attract new firms.
“In Ireland I’ll be looking at it from the perspective of an agricultural economy with a big tourism sector that’s now got much higher GDP per capita through embracing technology well over the last 15 years,” Luxon says.
His final stop in London will be focused on school visits and meeting principals and government ministers in the education sector to understand how Britain pulled its education rankings back up in the past five or so years.
Luxon intends to “nick and steal ” whatever he can from countries doing it better than New Zealand.
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