Two days into Chris Luxon’s reign as National leader and my initial impression is an overwhelming Meh.
This the make or break time. The chance when the media spotlight is firmly on you for you to make an impression. So what impression has he made?
His first action had strong hints of born to rule and out of control wealth about it.
To deliver him to the steps of Parliament so he could be all powerful on it the Party hired a black limousine to drive him from his apartment, across the road to Parliament’s forecourt, a total of 200 metres. One wonders why he could not have walked. Nicola Willis was also delivered by Black Mercedes. Obviously the visuals of being ferried around in expensive cars is more important to National than the climate and health benefits of walking.
Then he displayed that his understanding of how it was for ordinary people is completely lacking. He was asked what the unemployment rate was and guessed it is 3.9 percent. It is currently 3.4 percent. He guessed the living wage is $28. It is $22.75. He earlier expressed concern about an increase in the minimum wage because it made his coffee more expensive. Understanding how the 99% live is not one of his strong points.
Then he expressed surprise that one of his seven houses has increased in value by $2.3 million this year. But the overall figure is even worse. The combined portfolio is worth $21.2 million and has increased in value this year by $4.3 million which is $90,000 per week and all tax free. And in a perfect example of the utility of a public private partnership two of his properties, the building that houses his electorate office and his Wellington apartment, are subsidised by Central Government funding.
He is busily walking back the party’s proposal to allow further housing intensification in a joint approach with the Government. The leafy suburbs of Remuera have spoken.
And he is not going to back away from his abortion views, and has not disagreed with a suggestion that abortion is murder.
When John Key became leader he seized the middle ground, visited McGehan Close and took Aroha Nathan with him to Waitangi, and talked about the underclass and the urgent need to help the poor. Aroha’s mother subsequently described Key as an asshole but his foray deep into Labour territory had a profound effect.
I can confidently say that Luxon will not be capable of a similar symbolic activity. And he is not National’s messiah.