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New Zealand's opposition party picks former airline boss as new leader

Christopher Luxon, who helmed Air New Zealand for seven years until September 2019, had long been seen as the likely next leader of the conservative National party

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New Zealand

Reuters 

National MP Christopher Luxon answers questions during a press conference at parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, Nov. 23, 2021.A year after suffering a huge election loss, New Zealand's conservative opposition leader Judith Collins has been ousted
National MP Christopher Luxon answers questions during a press conference at parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, Nov. 23, 2021.A year after suffering a huge election loss, New Zealand's conservative opposition leader Judith Collins has been ousted

New Zealand's main opposition National Party on Tuesday selected a former Air chief executive as its new leader to face Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the next election in 2023.

Christopher Luxon, who helmed Air for seven years until September 2019, had long been seen as the likely next leader of the conservative National party, which faced its worst defeat in the 2020 election.

He becomes the party's fifth leader in just four years after Judith Collins, who headed the National's campaign in 2020, was dumped last week.

Luxon's elevation will put pressure on Ardern, whose popularity has taken a hit in recent weeks due to a perceived failure in quickly vaccinating the population and growing anger over her government's tough pandemic curbs and border closures.

Ardern has enjoyed enormous personal support but a recent 1News Colmar Brunton poll showed her rating as preferred prime minister had fallen 5 points from September to 39%.

"We believe New Zealanders need a government of action – not rhetoric," Luxon said in a statement.

"I came to because I know how to solve problems and get things done," he said.

The 51-year-old businessman held senior roles at global consumer goods firm Unilever before moving to Air and leading the airline between 2012 and 2019, during which time it produced consistent profits.

He was tapped by Ardern in 2018 to lead an advisory council focused on improving business confidence and to help with reforming a slowing economy.

He was elected to Parliament for the Botany electorate in the last election.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Tue, November 30 2021. 10:55 IST
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