Tuesday 5th November 2019
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Former Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon has all but sealed the political fate of dissident National Party MP Jami-Lee Ross by winning the party's selection as candidate for the Auckland electorate seat of Botany.
Party leader Simon Bridges welcomed Luxon's selection, saying it showed that "National’s status as the home of talent remains firmly in place".
“It is no accident that we attract strong candidates like Christopher, given we’re the most popularly supported party in Parliament and the largest and most effective Opposition this country has ever seen,” said Bridges, whose position as party leader has only recently appeared to become cemented despite still scoring under 10 percent in the most widely published public opinion polls.
Luxon is widely discussed as a possible contender for National's top job, with promoters of that view likening his corporate experience to that of John Key, the National Party-led government's Prime Minister between 2008 and 2016, when he resigned rather than fight another election.
Botany is a relatively high income dormer suburb in eastern Auckland, which Luxon said "like the rest of New Zealand ... is facing the pinch from a coalition government that is breaking its promises to Kiwis, hiking the cost of living, and failing to deliver on the things that matter".
The former chair of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council, formed last year in response to sagging business confidence, said he knew the electorate well.
“Botany is a part of who I am. I lived here growing up, attended local schools, and the hard-working, middle-class values that were instilled in me then are my values today. You can find everything that makes Auckland a great global city here, and I will be working incredibly hard to be Botany’s next National MP."
The electorate is a National Party safe seat, virtually guaranteeing that Luxon will be elected to Parliament in the general election scheduled for late 2020.
It is currently held by Jami-Lee Ross, a former National Party senior whip who fell out with Bridges, released damaging allegations about the party's acceptance of Chinese donor support, was outed as having had an affair with a parliamentary colleague, was briefly out of the public eye as he sought treatment for a mental health crisis, and was expelled from the party caucus late last year.
He is contesting Botany, which he won as National candidate in 2017 with a majority of 12,839 votes, as an independent.
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