2019-11-04 by W.M.
National chooses former Air NZ boss Christopher Luxon as Botany MP candidate
Christopher Luxon has nailed his socially conservative colours to the mast after his selection as the National Botany candidate for the 2020 election.
Speaking to media immediately after he gained a majority of delegates’ votes in the first round, Luxon laid out his views on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and cannabis legalisation.
The former Air NZ CEO was emphatic that Simon Bridges his full support when quizzed by media at the Pakuranga Golf Club on Monday night.
“We’ve got a job to do to make Simon Bridges the Prime Minister of New Zealand,” he said – but he refused to rule out a run for leader in the future.
* Christopher Luxon faces Botany selection race on Monday
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The political novice said his focus for now would be on serving the Botany electorate in East Auckland, conceding he had a lot to learn. “I feel like I’m off to High School for the first time. For me, it’s about making sure I deliver for the people of Botany.”
Among the issues he would be focusing on would be increasing the voter turnout from 73 per cent, well below the national average of about 80 per cent at general elections, he said.
Luxon said he would try to do that in part by reaching out to Chinese-heritage voters, who make up a significant chunk of the electorate.
The 49-year-old Evangelical Christian had previously refused to talk about his views on abortion. But on Monday night he said he was personally against reform of abortion or euthanasia law.
Asked about the influence of his strong personal faith on his political views, Luxon said: “My faith is a very personal thing … it gives me mission and purpose.”
He cited the effect of cannabis on young people with mental health problems in saying he was against its legalisation for recreational use. But he was in favour of decriminalising medical use, he said.
The former corporate high-flyer was also asked about the similarities between himself and former Prime Minister John Key, who endorsed Luxon as a ‘world class’ candidate.
Luxon said Key was the “greatest Prime Minister we ever had” but added: “I’m not John Key, I’m Chris Luxon.”
National party locals’ vote for Luxon as their candidate for the 2020 election means the former Air NZ CEO’s political career has flown over its biggest hurdle yet.
The race to become the National candidate for Botany was hotly contested because the electorate is seen as a safe seat for National.
Luxon is now well on the way to becoming an MP, but still has to beat predecessor Jami-Lee Ross, who earlier resigned from the party. Ross will run as an independent in 2020.
The other candidates were National List MP Agnes Loheni, start-up entrepreneur Jake Bezzant, businessman Troy Elliot, and Howick local board member Katrina Bungard.
Starting about 8pm, all five candidates gave speeches to a packed hall at the Pakuranga Golf Club in the heart of the Botany electorate.
Among those gathered were 60 delegates, nominated by the local party, who voted about 9.30pm.
The 60 delegates would have likely seen the candidates at three different meetings and been visited by individual candidates at home too. Luxon needed more than half of those delegates to win (31 votes).
Luxon, armed with an endorsement from former prime minister (and current Air NZ board member) John Key was regarded as something of a favourite.
It was clear that some of the higher ups in the party’s non-parliamentary wing were keen to see such a celebrity CEO enter Parliament.