Christopher Luxon's plan to dethrone Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister appears to be going for a 'Christian dad' vibe, a political academic has suggested.
He hasn't downplayed his religious beliefs since entering politics In one of his first interviews since taking the reins of the National Party said he agreed with the view that abortion is tantamount to murder - despite about 13,000 being carried out in New Zealand every year - but wouldn't look to overturn its recent decriminalisation.
National will be hoping the former Air New Zealand boss turns around the party's stagnant polling, which tanked in early 2020 and has stayed low ever since.
In his first week as leader, Luxon didn't offer up any significant policy changes.
"He gave a very professional, chief executive-like performance, particularly on his first couple of days," political commentator Ben Thomas told Newshub Nation on Saturday.
"Just like as you might expect from a business leader, you can tell the questions and issues that he was prepped for and the ones that caught him off guard. That'll be the thing he needs to look at going forward - the relentless torrent of issues, having to make snap judgements on everything, and not just preparing for an annual general meeting every year."
Thomas called it a "pretty good start", joking that it bodes well for people who look like him.
"Just in the last couple of days I've noticed a real upswing in the status of bald white men walking around Auckland. This could be our summer and we have Christopher Luxon to thank for it."
Lara Greaves, an academic at the University of Auckland, said Luxon will have to "differentiate himself" from all the other bald, white middle-aged National Party MPs.
"He's embracing the Christian dad vibe… there is that need to be likeable in modern New Zealand politics. We've seen through the election study that Ardern is an incredibly likeable leader and he needs to figure out what that is for himself."
'Don't stuff this up mate'
National COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop was surprised to hear National had been through more leaders in the past two years than COVID-19 variants that have reached New Zealand.
"That's depressing, but we're moving forward. Reset moment," he said.
Luxon earlier this week admitted to being a huge country music fan after spending eight years in the US. Asked whether he'd rather listen to Shania Twain or Kiwi rock legends Shihad, he opted for crooner Tim McGraw - which horrified rock-loving Bishop.
"When that question came my heart skipped a beat. I'm like, 'don't stuff this up mate'. I don't even know who that guy is. I texted him afterwards and said, 'Mate, what are you doing?'
"I'm going to take him to the Shihad concert in February in Wellington, potentially. I think he's up for that. Maybe not the moshpit."
Luxon is yet to announce the National Party's new rankings. His deputy Nicola Willis told Newshub Nation however that list turns out, Bishop will definitely be in charge of the party's music playlist.
ACT's prospects against Luxon
ACT leader David Seymour told the show it was "too early to say" if Luxon could improve on his predecessor Judith Collins' dismal performance as leader.
"I remember a time when people said the Crusher would crush ACT… then our vote increased by four times over. Let's see."
Dr Greaves said Luxon would be better off going for centre voters, rather than digging around on ACT's turf on the right.
"Seymour is an incredibly experienced politician… we'll see how they fare. Ultimately the real challenge for Luxon is to win back some of those voters from the centre- the ones that went to Labour at the last election."
Seymour said if National increased its share of the vote it would help ACT by putting them in a position to form a Government - which he thinks would work well.
"We used to be next-door neighbours… had a good chat over the fence."
Though he's the MP for Botany, Luxon actually lives in Epsom - Seymour saying he once door-knocked him while out campaigning.
Green MP Jan Logie told Newshub Nation Luxon had a "bad start" after admitting he didn't know how much his property empire was making in capital gains. Greens co-leader Marama Davidson said if he wants to find out, he could take a look at their proposed wealth tax.
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