LISTEN to the interview here.

Susie Ferguson with Christopher Luxon on winning the Botany Candidacy and Cutting the Working for Families Benefit for Parents who Don’t Vaccinate

Susie:

And with us now is Christopher Luxon, ata marie.

Christopher:

I am well, good morning Susie, how are you?

Susie:

I am well, thank you, and congratulations, were you surprised to win?

Christopher:

Oh, look it was a great night and it was a great process, to be honest, to go through. It’s a pretty tough process, you end up going out and about and meeting a whole bunch of ah… local folk who have been very committed to the electorate for some time.

Botany is a pretty special place. It’s really very diverse, it’s got a whole bunch of new New Zealanders that have come from all over the world to choose NZ to settle in and it’s got people that have lived there for a long time. So, it’s a really interesting place.

Susie:

So, you obviously have gone through the selection process now, just so that, I guess we begin to know you in a different capacity and not as Air NZ Chief Executive, what’s your elevator pitch to the country as to why you should represent Botany?

Christopher:

Oh well look it really is the fact that I think, you know, the country is in a state of drift at the moment and it really actually needs some things to happen and actually we need to start getting some things done.

And there are some really big issues across the country if you think about infrastructure in particular, we’ve talked about an infrastructure crisis, I travel all around the world and I’ve seen how other small countries are… you know, handle their infrastructure – we’ve really got some big work to do there.

Um, secondarily, we’ve got some major issues. We still have a challenge to create more value in our business sectors. You know, whether it be agri… you know, primary industries or tourism or whatever, to create more values so we can create higher wages and salaries and that’s been a big problem in NZ for the last 30 years around productivity.

Susie:

But you were working with the government on this to help strengthen its relationship with business through the Business Advisory Council, so where is that Jacinda Ardern is going wrong?

Christopher:

Well, look I think the prime minister is a dedicated New Zealander, she’s a mentally talented communicator, but politics is actually, I think, more than just saying things. You actually have to get things done and the reality is the National Party under Simon Bridges has a tremendously balanced ah… team and they can actually get things done and actually deliver stuff. And that’s really what’s… what matters for everyday New Zealanders.

Susie:

But she’s not a patch on the now Sir John Key?

Christopher:

Well, I think he was probably the greatest prime minister we ever had and ah… and ah… you know, there’s… his government was a pretty ah… good period for NZ and so ah… that’s… that’s our goal, in 2020 we have to get a national government re-elected.

Susie:

Are you going to move to the electorate if you win?

Christopher:

I mean… we were just working through at the moment… I’ve got a whole bunch of family considerations to make but I don’t live that far away from the electorate and, you know, to be honest… um… you know I’ll be a 100% committed to Botany irrespective of where my head hits the pillow.

Susie:

Okay. Let’s just talk about some of your values, some of the things that you would um… sort of put a line in the sand on. You’re against euthanasia – why is that?

Christopher:

Well, look, my personal view is I’m pro-life. I’d be against um… capital punishment, I’d be against euthanasia, abortion and my personal view is I’m opposed to the reforms.

But what I am committed to is I am now constituent um… you know representative and as a result I need to be able to hear and get the views of my community that I represent. So, for me, over the coming year that will be a really important thing – that I get out and about and hear people’s views on subjects like that.

Susie:

But indeed, people will need to get your views on some subjects as well, to get a sense of who you are, so why do you think that abortion should stay in the crimes act?

Christopher:

Look, my personal view is I’m just opposed to the reforms ah… and I’m pro-life so that…

Susie:

But that… that’s what it amounts to. You think that it’s fair enough that it stays as a crime?

Christopher:

Ah… that… they are my personal views about the reforms at this point yep. And I want to be able to talk to my electorate about those issues but I can tell you they aren’t the major issues that people are talking about. They are talking about transport, they are talking about cost of living, they are talking about being able to get back home to their kid, they are talking about law and order, they are talking about infrastructure – those things are what’s mattering most.

Susie:

Some of the stuff that people are talking about, certainly within the National Party, this ah… the ideas in the discussion document released the other day. Do you support, for example, cutting benefits to solo parents who don’t vaccinate their children?

Christopher:

Well, look I think the bottom line on social public policy is we have to put rights and responsibilities to the heart of what we are doing and the reality is that um… you know, I watched the really interesting scenario play out with a… you know, the situation of the police chase ah… and immediately the reaction from the media and the public was to blame the police rather than call for personal responsibility. And so, those are things that I think are very important and that if you are part of…

Susie:

I’m not a… I don’t understand how that’s answering the question that I asked you. Do you support cutting benefits to solo parents who don’t vaccinate their children?

Christopher:

Yes, I do.

Susie:

Why?

Christopher:

Because it’s about a notion of rights and responsibilities. If you want to be part of NZ and a civil society you have certain unalienable rights but you also have responsibilities to actually form a collective in helping the collective of NZ.

Susie:


Why just target solo parents and probably just solo mums really if we’re talking about it, should that be extended? Should it be extended to cutting working for families benefits?

Christopher:

Suzie, it’s not about that. It’s about a principle about personal responsibility and about rights and responsibilities.

Susie:

But why does that end simply with solo parents? Why does it not extend to working for families?

Christopher:

Well, it… it’s a principle that actually needs to go across all of our social and public policy, right?

Susie:

So, it should extend that far?

Christopher:

Yeah, it should, it should.

Susie:

So, you would want to see working for families cut for parents who don’t vaccinate their children?

Christopher:

Look, that’s hypothetical. What I’m talking to you about is you asked me to talk about a principle and what I’m saying is you go through all the tactical issues around public policy and social policy. Um… I want to be guided by principle and the principle is very much about rights and responsibilities.

For example, you know there’s been a reduction and sanctions around some people receiving benefits. If you don’t show up for a job interview six or seven times um… we have to have those kind of conversations, I mean because the NZ taxpayer is helping someone who is in a vulnerable situation, that they have a responsibility on their own personal case the actually do the best that they can.

Susie:

You are already pinging on the preferred prime minister numbers in the polls, now that you’re selected as the candidate, do you anticipate that rising?

Christopher:

Look I’ve got to be really focused on Botany, being the best MP for Botany. Um… I think we’ve got an outstanding leader in Simon Bridges. I want him to be prime minister in 2020 and I want to part of the team. He’s a very talented guy, I know him well.  He’s got the right temperament, he’s got a great team around him that can actually hit the ground running and actually deliver and that’s what this country needs, you know. We are drifting, we are not getting things done, we get (indistinct) and buzzwords and that’s what’s happening.

Susie:

Do you… do you anticipate being in the front bench team, whether that’s in government or opposition?

Christopher:

No, I’m really focused on… I’ve got a lot to learn… I’m really, you know, joining this process with much to learn from lots of different people. I really want to make sure that we deliver for the people of Botany – it’s an important area, it’s a big area – so you’ve got a population of this East Auckland site that is the population of Dunedin and those people need to be incredibly well represented.

Susie:

Appreciate your time. That is Christopher Luxon there who is the National Party candidate for the Botany electorate, selected last night.