Christopher Luxon - NZ PM #42.
The answer to life, the universe, and everything?
Nothing says strong and stable like having your government announcement delayed by a day because one of your deputies wants to remind everyone, but mostly you, who wears the trousers. It was all a bit embarrassing yesterday with the parties descending on Wellington before pulling out of proceedings. There are only so many times you can claim to be “nearly there”, before you lose credibility.
Still, what a difference a day makes. Here we are after the biblical forty days in the wilderness, as the good Ark Coalition finally washed up to sign their agreement. Congratulations to Christopher Mark Luxon, 42nd Prime Minister of New Zealand.
So what will New Zealand’s Prime Minister number 42 be like?
Well for starters, and despite the alarmist claims of some, he’s not like the guy they call 45 in the US, Donald Trump being the 45th President of the United States.
Luxon may have shown similar attributes and strategies to Trump but his is a gentler populism, a more laid back, perhaps almost kiwi, focus on self interest. Plus his thumbs are larger, as he is constantly showing us.
So full marks to Christopher on being the next Key, and not the next Trump. The question for a troubled Aotearoa though is whether #42 will prove to be the answer to life, the universe, and everything*.
* <SPOILER> In the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy the answer to life, the universe, and everything is calculated by supercomputer Deep Thought, over 7.5 million years, to be “42”. Hmm, we’ll see.
If you’ve watched the clip above, or are familiar with the books, you’ll know that the problem wasn’t so much not knowing what the answer was, as failing to identify the question. Or to put it another way - if Christopher Luxon is the answer, then what is the question?
Now a few people contacted me after my last newsletter suggesting that with a new government coming to power I should give them a proper chance. One even kindly said that if I wrote positively, “instead of your petty and personal attacks on the right” he “might start subscribing to your rag which to date has been an exercise in polarisation.”
A tempting proposition to be sure. It made me wonder, do people send Mike Hosking messages telling him to do pro Labour pieces? Not that I should wish to compare myself with NZ’s favourite sedative. Who am I to disparage the appeal of sedation by sledgehammer to the cranium?
But here is the thing. I do want the next government to be successful and I would be very happy if they delivered on some of their campaign promises. Ok, I confess, when it comes to the policies and the statements of Luxon, Seymour, and Peters I have been quite cynical. Maybe I was wrong? Here’s hoping so for all of us.
But before we look at the new coalition one last cartoon, to get it out of my system. I particularly enjoyed this one recently. NAF indeed.
So this morning the coalition agreement was signed following ratification by the boards of the three parties. A new government will be sworn in next week.
For the first time in our history we have a three party coalition. I guess former Prime Ministers haven’t had the luxury of support partners they felt would work together constructively, for the betterment of the country, putting their own self interests aside.
Peters and Seymour will take turns being the deputy PM, Winston first of course. As Grant Robertson suggested, perhaps co-leaders were a bit woke for the supporters of ACT and NZF. Their leader being one sounding like something the Greens would do, assuming that party didn’t just make everyone a co-leader.
You can see the full list of appointments for the next government here.
Then there is the next Prime Minister himself. The chosen one. Gifted a safe seat that wasn’t too far away from where he lives to visit on occasion. An unchallenged promotion to leader of the opposition, which everyone knew was coming from the moment he entered parliament. And now elected Prime Minister, without any experience as a Minister, or even time in government, to lead our nation.
May his charmed existence continue, and his abilities remain unexposed.
I hope Luxon does fix crime. While it’s been reassuring to see fewer reports on the news of things like ram raids lately, we know that’s mainly down to the election having been and gone, rather than a cessation of such activity.
Maybe his policy on not letting Gang Members wear their jackets, or show their facial tattoos, will prove to be the answer after decades of this country living with the scourge of gangs?
Perhaps Aotearoa will be the first place where locking children up in Boot Camps proves to be a better solution than helping them. It does seem unlikely given how poorly it’s failed everywhere else, but there is the silver lining of construction growth, building new correctional facilities.
Best of all where such spending would have been considered inflationary by Willis and Luxon under Labour, that’ll no longer be the case and I for one look forward to Brad Olsen changing his position on that, along with many other things.
I hope Luxon actually does help with the cost of living. Not the people that own property, no question they’ll be well catered for by the new government.
But renters who will be hit by higher rents and no cause evictions. Workers who will lose the right to Fair Pay Agreements. Those receiving government benefits who will see the annual changes to their meagre incomes reduced. Everyone who is struggling with the cost of food, housing, and pretty much everything.
The coalition parties don’t seem to have many policies that do that, other than a small tax cut more than offset by cuts to funding. To be fair the funding of those cuts was looking dubious even before this agreement ruled out revenue from the sale of houses to foreign investors. But they did talk about the cost of living a lot during the campaign. So maybe they have something up their sleeves?
I hope that all three of these parties are wrong about climate change. That doing the best part of bugger all, as they’re intending. Even less than we were already doing. Is the right course of action in the face of an existential threat to mankind, or in terms they might more readily relate to, coastal property values.
I hope they heal divisions. I don’t understand their reasons but many people felt marginalized by the last government. It would be good to see the country less polarized, but I’m worried it will become more so. I fear further dog whistling with every previous effort to improve opportunities for Māori or Pasifika people being met with absurd labels of privilege or apartheid.
I’m disgusted that they will advance Act's Treaty Principles Bill. Redefining what the Treaty of Waitangi means should be unthinkable to every fair minded person in this country. A Black Friday for Aotearoa indeed.
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As a socialist and a greenie I’m obviously not happy about the new government’s policies, but for the sake of all of us I hope it’s not all bad. That they do some things to benefit the majority of people in this country, or at least those whose needs are greatest. I’ll be more than happy to write positively about those if they occur.
So good luck to Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and his, let’s be kind, Coalition of Convenience. These are challenging times in this post Covid world and we’re going to need a government who can lead Aotearoa through troubled waters.
The sun will continue to rise, there will still be kind hearted people looking out for each other, and in time if Luxon doesn’t prove to be beneficial to New Zealand then people will vote him out.
But for now as we enter this new period in our history let us wish the coalition every success as they begin to govern. No doubt there will be an opportunity to cast a more critical eye over them in coming weeks as they gleefully set fire to years of positive initiatives.
Some perspective perhaps…