National MPs align with Luxon’s new page philosophy

It’s a new day for national deputies, who turn to introspection as they settle into their new roles.

Christopher Luxon and Nicola Willis
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Christopher Luxon made his parliamentary debut as Leader of the Opposition this afternoon, facing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the first time in the Chamber.

It wasn’t quite the Battle of the Titans as advertised – instead, with a few shakes from Day One.

Luxon stumbled on his words a bit, but otherwise neither dealt a fatal blow; neither has covered himself with glory; both with room for improvement.

It was something Luxon himself recognized.

“It’s definitely different from the world I’m from,” Luxon said afterwards. “But it’s exciting. I think I’m going to get better and better.”

National MPs arrived this morning for their first caucus meeting since Luxon took over as party leader last week and yesterday announced a readjustment of responsibilities.

Among other party business, they were there to elect a new senior and junior whip: Chris Penk taking over the senior role from Matt Doocey and Maureen Pugh retaining the junior role, both unopposed.

Luxon’s own rhetoric is largely centered on “turn the page” party feuds like the clash between Judith Collins and Simon Bridges which sparked Collins’ impeachment as leader and the ascendancy of Luxon.

This attitude seemed to have spread among the base, with many offering timely observations.

“Yesterday was yesterday,” Bridges said. “I think today is, ah, the future.”

No legend

Simon Bridges.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

He said he hadn’t had any “scarecrows” with any of his colleagues, even Collins. Bridges was summarily demoted by her and her portfolios were cut less than two weeks ago, but there were little signs of glee after her own demotion from party leader to 19th on the list.

“I think the mix of yesterday’s reset is going to make a big difference in how National performs… at the end of the day I think we have a team here where everyone has a contribution and Chris did a really good job of combine skills and strengths with the areas of the portfolio. “

Another former executive, Todd Muller, had also opposed Collins in the past, but had borrowed directly from Luxon’s book of quotes.

“I think it was pretty clear at the time that the two of us were having a relationship breakdown, but I’m not here to think about the story. I’m here to turn the page.

“Look, the thing with turning a page is you actually have to turn the page. You actually have to say… can hang on to what ends up being destructive – or you can just put it down and say “it was then, this is now” and we have to move forward on that basis. “

Todd muller

Todd Muller.
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Muller had planned to retire from politics after the 2023 election, but after the change in leadership he decided to stay. Part of the reason for his demotion under Collins was due to his coworker disparaging Harete Hipango to a reporter.

Hipango herself was also philosophical and happy to leave the past in the past.

“Life has its ups and downs and I’m pretty sure where things stand. So like I say I’m just part of a team, I have a job to do, and I’m here and I’ve been brought in, I’ve been put back on a list, and there’s no number right now, and that’s fine with me. That’s fine. I just have one job to do.

“Am I comfortable? I am comfortable with everyone… life teaches us that there are things that happen.

“You are coming to my stage of life, I’ve been around the block a few times and been picked on many times… I’m well versed and I’m well prepared and like I say, l The focus is not on me, not on Todd, not on any of us as individuals, but it’s actually about making things better for Aotearoa New Zealand. “

Erica Stanford, a rising star who was proposed as a possible assistant in the leadership race and who returned from yesterday’s reshuffle with the education portfolio and an 18-rank promotion, hoped Collins would remain a force in the party.

“Judith Collins is exceptionally talented, she’s been a very capable minister for many years, and I actually hope – and I know she will because she has already started doing it – she will be a mentor for many of us.

Erica Stanford

Erica Stanford.
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

“She gave me immigration and she kind of had this firm hand on my shoulder all the way, and I hope that will continue because she has a lot of really great advice to give.”

Collins herself was nowhere to be found, apparently on leave. New police spokesperson Mark Mitchell said this was not a sign of retaliation against her.

“I just think for various reasons caucus members sometimes take time off. Judith may have chosen to do that and it may have been as recent as it is today, I don’t know. explanations. “

While the theme of looking ahead was consistent, for some it was less about stepping away from past grievances with coworkers than forgetting about a demotion they perhaps weren’t expecting.

“Everyone wants to improve and I took a step back, I’m not going to hide my disappointment, but it’s a moment in time. I have new challenges now and I can’t wait to take them on,” said Michael. Woodhouse, who lost his finance portfolio to Bridges and dropped the list from fourth to 18th.

“Look, today is a new day, I have new challenges and I can’t wait to take on these challenges.”

He will undoubtedly be busy, with five portfolios including Statistics, ACC, Sport and Recreation, Crown Enterprises and Deputy Phantom House Leader.

Todd McClay – who fell from sixth in the top 20 – also wanted to focus on the road ahead.

“It gives me the respect I deserve. You can interpret this however you want,” he said.

No legend

Todd McClay.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

“I was given two very important jobs to do in both commerce and tourism, commerce is one of the most important things New Zealand does – we are an exporting nation, the challenge for the government is to get a high quality deal with the European Union, it’s been going on for a very long time. Tourism, where businesses are struggling – they don’t understand the red light system, it was as late as Friday, it’s been changed – so it’s just a huge job to do and as far as rankings go, it’s not something I’ve focused on before. “

Covid-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop took up four spots but said he got straight to it last night with a lot of hard work.

“These last few days have been busy, we have the House this week – Christopher’s first question, obviously, and a new leadership team – and there are five, six sitting days of the House to go.

“Lots of work to do, so no celebrations right now, but you know – Christmas is yet to come.”