Christopher Luxon would be Prime Minister with economic focus - Sir John Key

Christopher Luxon would have a strong focus on the economy if he was Prime Minister, Sir John Key has suggested in a video shared on the same day the National Party's current leader faced criticism. 

A video interview featuring Luxon - the former Air New Zealand chief executive and National's candidate in the Botany electorate - and former National Prime Minister Sir John was shared on Facebook by Chinese media outlet SkyKiwi on Monday.

Both men are regularly compared to each other, often due to their background in business, something host Ping Chen picked up on.

"Today I'm honoured to have both Sir John Key Mark I and in Chris as John Key Mark II on the show," she said in the video. Chen also joked that Luxon "used to tell me Mark 1 was cuter but Mark II was more handsome".

Asked about their similarities, Sir John said the pair had similar experiences and views on the economy. 

"We both have commercial backgrounds, both, obviously, very interested in politics. I think we are both pretty decent communicators if we need to be. We have had a similar international and domestic background in that regard," he said.

"We both share similar economic views. We are economically conservative, but we are internationalists. We want to see New Zealand engage with the world and trade with the world and have a harmonious, multi-cultural society operating in New Zealand."

Sir John also suggested what it may be like if Luxon was Prime Minister. 

"If Chris was the Prime Minister, I think what you'd see was a very strong emphasis on the economy. I think whoever the Prime Minister of the day is, ultimately, will get through COVID-19, but the challenges that it represents on the economic side are going to be very significant and with us for a quite long period of time," he said.

"To me, that is where the main similarities are, that both of us know, that unless you have a strong economy, then in the end, people don't have the confidence and choices they want to look after themselves and their family."

The interview was shared by SkyKiwi on the same day the National Party's current leader, Simon Bridges, came under fire for his response to the Government's decision to move to alert level 3 next week. In a Facebook post, Bridges said the Government hadn't taken the time during the lockdown to "ensure best practice of testing and tracing and the availability of PPE".

With the Facebook negatively received - including by National Party supporters - rumours began swirling on Tuesday that others in the party were considering a leadership coup. Bridges has denied that is happening, as have the MPs supposedly looking to challenge him.

Luxon himself has been pegged as a potential leader for the party one day.

The former Air NZ exec spoke about his thoughts on Sir John during the video interview.

"We sorta ended up having a lot of conversations around tourism, because John was Minister of Tourism and I was CEO of Air New Zealand. We ended up texting and talking late into the night often with our different jobs and we got to know each other," Luxon said.

"He is like me. We take our jobs very seriously, but we don't take ourselves that seriously. It is really important when you are doing big jobs and extreme jobs, and John has done the biggest one in New Zealand, that you actually have fun along the way too.

"I would also put it out there he was a pretty good Prime Minister. If you think about getting us through the GFC, getting us through the Christchurch earthquake. [He gave] New Zealanders quite a lot of confidence they can go out in the world and they can be ambitious and they can do things and they can be world-class was very much a big part of his legacy as well."

Among the topics discussed in the wide-ranging, hour-long interview was how to get New Zealand running again post-COVID-19, the effectiveness of the foreign buyers' ban, and if people should be wearing face masks in public.

Sir John hoped New Zealand would retain its core values throughout the pandemic.

"You need to give people confidence that the core values that we took into the coronavirus, which was hopefully an open system, one there was tolerance, one there was an understanding of others, one where we embraced the multi-cultural society, that all those values and principles are the same principles and values we take out the other end of the virus," he said.

"Inevitably, you will always get people who will react in a stupid manner because they say the virus started in China so they want to portion blame or some other sort of response. If that was the response of those people, they might have to broaden their list because it is in about 198 countries in the world."

Luxon also said it was sad to watch Air New Zealand struggle with the massive downturn in international travel as it was a "very special" company with "13,000 very special people".