Paula Bennett defends Christopher Luxon amid criticism of National leader 'struggling' as politician

Christopher Luxon, the MP for Botany, is selling himself to be our next Prime Minister.

"I'm a husband, I'm a father, I'm a son, I'm a brother, I'm a friend, I'm a leader," he told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

But the former Air New Zealand chief executive also admitted he's got a lot of convincing to do, after host Rebecca Wright pointed out his preferred Prime Minister rating remains much the same as a year ago.

Luxon replied: "What I'm saying to you is we've got a lot of work to do, as a party, but also for me to get to know the New Zealand people, and for them to get to know me."

Luxon won the east Auckland seat of Botany at the 2020 election and with just a year of experience in Parliament he was thrust into the spotlight and elected leader of the party after the removal of Judith Collins.

National was the most popular party in the November Newshub-Reid Research poll, but by January, Labour was back in the lead, after Chris Hipkins replaced Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister, and dominated the headlines as he led the flood response.

"That understandably was a huge amount of oxygen if you think about it from media attention," Luxon told Newshub Nation.

"The last thing you need is an Opposition leader in there niggling away on petty politics."

Massey University Associate Professor Grant Duncan told Newshub it "probably was wise" for Luxon to step back during that time.

But with the country possibly heading into a recession, Prof Duncan said this should be National's time to shine.

"They're not really doing that, however, let's see what happens over the next six months."

Political commentator, Te Pāti Māori president and former Labour MP John Tamihere told Newshub Nation that while Luxon comes across as a "decent bloke", he is still struggling to be a politician.

"The real question, of course, is substance," Tamihere said on Newshub Nation's political panel.

"When you start to drill into the substance he's still struggling to be a politician.

"Just because you've been a good CEO doesn't mean you're going to be a rockstar when you arrive into politics."

Paula Bennett defends Christopher Luxon amid criticism of National leader 'struggling' as politician
Photo credit: Newshub

But former National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett has leapt to Luxon's defence, telling Newshub he's "done an amazing job".

"The last 12 months have been extraordinary. In fact, I've seen him turn around the National Party in 12 months," Bennett said.

"I hope he's always got a lot of work to do to get to know him because like all of us he's not one-dimensional.

"But he is so damn ambitious for this country, he shows true leadership, and he's not your consummate politician, and I kind of like that about him.

"It amuses me when you hear comments like John Tamihere say he's a great CEO but not a great politician. Well, you could argue John Tamihere thought he was a great politician but he certainly didn't make much of a difference in this country.

"I think we need a CEO. I think we need someone who's actually going to deliver."