OPINION

On Wednesday I listened to Christopher Luxon giving a pre-Budget speech to the Auckland Business Chamber, the CEO of which is Simon Bridges. It was a speech, delivered without notes, containing a vision and a plan to implement a means whereby the goals in the vision would be achieved. The speech was from the head of a businessman, someone who could both identify the problems and then the strategy needed to go about solving them.

The contrast between this speech and one that would be given by Hipkins on the same topic was stark. If Hipkins had delivered a speech along the lines of the one I heard from Luxon then someone else would have written it and Hipkins wouldn’t have had a clue what he was talking about! We have heard from the left that you can’t run a country like a business. Wrong. It is precisely the wide experience that Luxon has had in the business world as a CEO and problem solver that has equipped him for the task ahead of him and his Government now.

He will be the driver of the economic revival this country so desperately needs. His ministers will be the equivalent of the heads of department in Unilever and Air New Zealand. He will have given them a very clear message about his expectations, not only of them but of the ministries they are in charge of. I believe the ministers in the most important portfolios in this Government, as opposed to the last lot, have the necessary ability and will relish the challenge. We have already seen two dismissals where ministers have not performed to the standard expected of them.

What I took from Luxon’s speech is there will be unrelenting focus on the economy, inflation, government spending, infrastructure, getting rid of red tape, law and order, education and health outcomes. In relation to Pharmac he wants drugs approved in six months, not the two years it currently takes. He mentioned the importance of the fast track legislation which, in spite of the huge numbers of submissions received, should go ahead in its current form.

He is not of a mind to introduce an austerity budget but pointed out that savings – made in the back offices of government departments and elsewhere – have enabled the introduction of the promised tax cuts without more borrowing. He was very clear that hard-working Kiwis, particularly those on low and middle incomes deserve to get more money in their pockets. On education, he spoke of a back-to-basics approach of getting pupils into school with a clear curriculum. He spoke of charter schools answering a ‘one size fits all’ problem.

Luxon wants us out into the world on matters of foreign affairs, trade and defence. He mentioned the overseas trips made already by Winston Peters, Todd McLay and Judith Collins. We can expect more of these. On trade specifically he wants us hustling for business and sees great opportunities in the Asia Pacifc region. He hinted at more spending on defence as the fiscal situation improves. He says while maintaining an independent foreign policy we need to play our part and talked about concerns on our doorstep in the Pacific.

As I said in my opening remarks, this is a vastly different speech to one that would have been delivered by the other side of the House. Labour is only interested in fantasy projects, the Greens are enamoured with fairies at the bottom of the garden and the Maori Party can’t see past 1840. These sorts of issues are of no help when it comes to extricating the country from the situation they put us in. Their thinking reflects the intellectual inbreeding that excludes ideas from outside sources. It is apparent in recent remarks made by Bryce Edwards and Chris Trotter.

By contrast, we now have a government led by a man with a vision and a plan. While upholding the ‘social’ responsibilities of government, Luxon is going to get us out of our hole, wearing his businessman’s hat and applying business methods. He talked about the enthusiasm and the excitement for what lies ahead. He finished by talking about productivity being at the heart of all the economic policies, hustling for business, economic excellence and said, “We can do it, honestly we can do it. We just need to get the show on the road.”

What a contrast to ‘borrow and hope’.

A right-wing crusader. Reached an age that embodies the dictum only the good die young. Country music buff. Ardent Anglophile. Hates hypocrisy and by association left-wing politics.