New Zealand Opposition Elects Former Air NZ Chief as Leader

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By Stephen Wright
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Wellington, New Zealand – New Zealand’s opposition National Party has chosen a former chief executive of Air New Zealand Ltd as leader as it seeks to regain relevance after being sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The centre-right National Party said on Tuesday it had elected first-time MP Christopher Luxon as leader and Nicola Willis as deputy leader. Mr Luxon replaces Judith Collins, who was ousted last week after an internal party conflict with one of his predecessors.

The National Party has had a succession of leaders during the pandemic as it struggled to score political points against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s initially popular zero COVID-19 policy. Ms Ardern’s Labor Party won a resounding electoral victory in October 2020, allowing her to govern alone, rather than in a coalition, which is commonly practiced in New Zealand politics.

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Mr Luxon was appointed Chief Executive of Air New Zealand in 2011 and was elected to parliament for the first time in 2020. Prior to Air New Zealand, he was an executive at Unilever plc for nearly two decades in New Zealand and abroad.

“We believe the people of New Zealand need a government with action, not rhetoric,” he said in a statement. “I got into politics because I know how to solve problems and get things done.”

Write to Stephen Wright at [email protected]

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