Christopher Luxon says he doesn't care 'what is on the freakin PPE' after Waka Kotahi bought new hi-viz jackets for him

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is hitting out after Newshub revealed Waka Kotahi bought new unbranded hi-viz jackets for the Prime Minister and his entourage to re-open State Highway 25a last year. 

Speaking with AM on Tuesday, Luxon said doesn't "care what is on the freakin PPE" after it was revealed the new high-visibility jackets were bought for him.   

The kit was unbranded and didn't have the te reo Māori name on the hardhat.    

Waka Kotahi also had staff buy special gear for the occasion, unbeknownst to the Prime Minister. 

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon at the re-opening of State Highway 25a last year.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon at the re-opening of State Highway 25a last year. Photo credit: Newshub

During Luxon's weekly interview with AM on Tuesday morning, he was asked if he had known these jackets were going to be purchased, would've stopped it or said it wasn't necessary. 

"I got to tell you, Mel, I get in and out of cars all the time and whack on any PPE, I don't care what is on the freakin PPE, what I'm actually interested in is the project getting done," Luxon replied. 

"That 25A was a great example of a community working seven days a week, 20 hours a day to get a project on time and early," he said.  

During the election campaign and Luxon's tenure as Prime Minister, he's been very vocal about wanting to reduce wasteful spending.  

This led to a question by AM about whether the purchasing of the jackets was a waste of money.  

"I didn't direct it, the Minister didn't direct it, it does seem like a waste of money," Luxon told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green. 

"I don't care what logo is on my freakin PPE, what I'm interested in is the project and whether it's getting done or not. 

"... It's a decision for the agency to determine what they want to do on their PPE, I just wouldn't have thought it was a good use of time.  

"Someone organising it would be a waste of money, certainly getting it produced would be a waste of money. We just want to get things done in this country. That's why we are here and that is what we were elected to do." 

At the start of December, Transport Minister Simeon Brown issued a directive to Waka Kotahi to use their English name first.  

Internal messages obtained under the Offical Information Act show one staffer saying it had been indicated it was likely they wouldn't be able to use Waka Kotahi branded hi-viz.   

"So that is an awful lot of new vests someone will have to pay for. Sigh," they said.   

That someone was the taxpayer, who forked out for 18 new fluro orange jackets totalling $304.90.   

The Prime Minister told AM he wouldn't have cared if Waka Kotahi was on his jacket as it's "not the big issue of the day".  

"What is much more important is getting things done in this country rather than what logo is on my PPE," he said.  

"The message we have been pretty heavy giving to the CEs of all the different government agencies who I've met with recently, which is we don't want wasteful spending, we are expecting to delivery, that is what we are about." 

Watch the full interview above.