Let’s Not Get Ahead of Ourselves…

The announcement that Christopher Luxon has resigned as the CEO of Air New Zealand and is likely to look for a career in politics has got the media in a tail spin.

Of course, that put an end to discussions about the gun buyback scheme and the lobbyist running Jacinda’s office, which was remarkably convenient for the government.

While it is good news that someone of Luxon’s profile has opted for a career as a National politician, maybe we shouldn’t be getting too excited just yet.

First of all, he does not leave Air New Zealand until September. Then, even if the plan is for him to stand for election in Botany, as has been suggested, that will not happen until the election late next year.

If he wins he then needs to spend at least one parliamentary term finding his way around the house. Politics is very different from the business world, and there is no guarantee that the change will suit him well.

So Simon Bridges does not need to worry just yet, as Audrey Young points out.

The reality is that if Bridges beat the odds to win the 2020 election, Luxon would walk straight into a Cabinet position in much the same way that Steven Joyce did in 2008.
Judith Collins would be a senior minister and presumably a settled one.
And if Bridges’ leadership is successfully challenged before the election in the next 18 months, Luxon will be the least of his problems.

A likely scenario, although it is thought that there are factions within the party that do not want Collins as leader, which may well keep Bridges in the role at least until the election. If he loses, however, he will be gone, just as Luxon is walking through the doors of parliament.

Luxon won’t become the leader of the opposition on his first day in parliament.

If Bridges leads National to the next election and it fails, the National Party will have two choices: to go with Collins or to go with a younger-generation politician.
Bridges, of course, would not be an option. Luxon would definitely not be an immediate option if he had just joined the caucus. He might be good but he is not that good.

But could Collins, knowing the party in Opposition would have more choices after the election, be more inclined to go after the top job this term?

The thing is that there will be a number of choices after the election. Some of the younger National MPs might find themselves in the running by the end of the next parliamentary term. There is Paul Goldsmith, Chris Bishop, Dan Bidois, Chris Penk and Nicola Willis to consider, among others, and all of them have more experience than Luxon.

Collins’ chances of winning a leadership contest after the next election might be reduced because the competition, such as Bay of Plenty’s Todd Muller, might be more appealing by then. But if she won, it would not be as toxic and she would have a better chance of leading the party to success.
However, the failure of a Collins leadership part way through next term is the point at which Muller or Chris Luxon could be expected to step up to take the helm.
To that extent, Luxon is more of a threat to the next generation of leading National MPs, Todd Muller, Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis, than to Simon Bridges or Judith Collins.

A Newspaper.

I agree. Luxon is no threat to Bridges. Chances are that Bridges will be long gone before Luxon has any chance of challenging for the party leadership.

He may hate politics anyway. The political world is very different from the business world, and there is no guarantee that his success in business will make him a good political leader. We will just have to wait to see how it all pans out.

It took John Key 4 years from entering parliament to become the National party leader. So, for those members of the media who have Luxon moving into Premier House next weekend, I say that they need to hang fire.

But wasn’t it a great way to deflect from the government’s failures this week? That means that they can save the baby pictures for next week.