Christopher Luxon's property empire shows 'we've become a very unequal society' - Labour MP David Parker

National MP Chris Bishop says Kiwis don't care about how wealthy their political leaders are - and admire those who've been "successful". 

His new boss Christopher Luxon owns seven properties and has said he doesn't "want to see house prices fall dramatically" despite values rising by a third in the past year and New Zealand having some of the least affordable housing in the world.

Luxon, the former Air New Zealand CEO who took over from the polarising Judith Collins earlier this week, says he doesn't know how much money he's making from his properties

"You can attack me for being successful. I can't defend that," he told Newshub.

Some social media users heeded his call, calling him out-of-touch at a time when home-ownership rates are falling and the number of people on the waiting list for public housing keeps growing.

"It was predictable, to be honest," said Bishop, who owns two properties according to the Register of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests. Both have mortgages, unlike Luxon, who doesn't have any listed against his properties.

"Christopher is a wealthy guy - there's no hiding that. Many wealthy people do. He's worked offshore, he's been the CEO of major companies and he's been well-remunerated and he's a wealthy guy. There's no point in hiding that."

Labour MP David Parker, appearing with Bishop on The AM Show, said there was "nothing wrong in a moral sense" with Luxon owning seven homes, "but it does show that you know, some people are pretty privileged". 

"It does sort of belie the fact in New Zealand we've become a very unequal society where some people can own seven homes and other people none."

Bishop said Kiwis don't "really engage in the politics of envy around all this stuff".

"I see the Labour Party's had people online having a go at him and all that. But I think most Kiwis don't care, to be honest. In fact, they're sort of even proud of the fact they've got a successful guy like Christopher leading the National Party, the same way they were quite proud of John Key in a funny way."

Parker said Labour hadn't "set the dogs" on anyone.

"We don't do that sort of thing. Look, I prefer civility in life, and it's one of the sad side effects of social media that any fool can express an opinion and flick it out there, unmoderated by the fourth estate. It can be a terribly negative thing… I prefer more civil discourse rather than people being at each other's throats."

Luxon takes over a party struggling in the polls that's been through nearly two years of tumult. Simon Bridges was rolled by Todd Muller in early 2020, who stepped aside shortly afterwards and was replaced by Collins, a former Cabinet minister whose aggressive style failed to win National back any support whatsoever. 

"Political parties go through these times in Opposition, but the point is we've had the reset, we move on and we're back," said Bishop, adding there was "palpable enthusiasm" for the new leadership team, which includes Nicola Willis as deputy. 

Christopher Luxon.
Christopher Luxon. Photo credit: Newshub.

Bishop said he'd be happy to stay on as the party's COVID-19 spokesperson, but hinted he's asked for more - or perhaps additional - responsibility.

"That'll come in the coming days. I'm just the guy out the back making the cups of tea and helping out. I'll do whatever Christopher asks me to do… The ranking will be over to Christopher as well, and we'll wait and see where all that lands. 

"But what we know right know is [we've] got a great new leadership team with Christopher and Nicola Willis as deputy, and Simon Bridges as number three in finance and infrastructure. I think he'll do a great job."