Media promote Luxon ahead of his time as politician

People with public profiles, or ‘personalities’ as media who like to think they are also personalities describe them, have a significant advantage over people who don’t have any public profile – name recognition. With the voting public mostly disinterested in most politics and politicians most of the time, having your name known already can be a huge advantage.

But some of them acquire  much bigger advantage, gifted to them by media.  Journalists see stories, and make stories, when  well known person hints at an interest in politics, and when they indicate or announce an interest in politics.

This is what has been happening with ex Air NZ CEO, Christopher Luxon. Even while he was still working for Air NZ media were promoting his prospects not only as a future politician, but also as a future party leader. I think it’s likely some of this at least was deliberately seeded and fed by Luxon, but media willingly obliged.

When Luxon resigned from Air NZ media obliged some more.

When Luxon stood for selection in an electorate, and was subsequently selected to stand in an electorate, media didn’t just report this as news, they promoted the chances of Luxon becoming party leader and potentially Prime Minister.

It will be about a year before the next election, and before we know if Luxon is elected as a back bench MP or not. It would be another two or three years at least before Luxon got a chance of standing for the leadership of National, and even in that sort of time frame it would be remarkable if he did. and he would probably have to compete against other ambitious MPs who have waited for many years working on their chances of rising to the top.

But so far at least Luxon has huge advantage – the media wanting to create stories and effectively create political careers. This is hugely undemocratic. but it is how our media operates in our democracy, as talent scouts and career makers and breakers.

Media does a valuable, essential job reporting politics. But when they become obsessed with making stories rather than reporting them, they are doing a disservice to our democracy.

Media have likened Luxon to John Key, but Key was actually a virtual unknown in New Zealand until he got into politics. However media did help him on his way to the top.  That was one success.

However people with public profiles prior to politics don’t necessarily become great politicians – media can give them unbalanced publicity, but they can’t make them good MPs or Ministers.

There are a number of ‘personalities’ (people with media profiles) who have been great politicians.

Pam Corkery comes to mind – after a media background she became an MP in 1996 but left after one term.

Maggie Barry was well known on TV before becoming an MP in 2011. She ended up becoming minor Minister last term but is probably better known for claims of bullying staff, and over the last year for strong and sometimes extreme opposition to the End of Life Choice bill. She has just announced she won’t stand again next year.

John Tamihere had political and media profile but that didn’t help him get close to winning the recent Auckland mayoral election (but he was competing against Phil Goff who got all the media help he could have hoped foe when first standing for mayor three years ago.

In the Dunedin elections in 2016 a radio ‘personality’ stood and got elected, but after an unremarkable term as councillor voters dumped him.

There are media ‘successes’. They certainly helped hype Jacinda Ardern and significantly enhanced her chances of becoming Prime Minister.

Media picked up and disproportionately promoted a young Auckland mayoral candidate in the 2016 election. Chloe Swarbrick went on from that, undoubtedly helped by media attention, to become a Green Party candidate, to get a fast track up the Green list and into Parliament. She would have to be one of the most promising first term MPs.

But excessive media attention can be a double edged sword. The promotion and rise of Luxon has just resulted in his first political success, candidate selection in what should be a safe electorate. And he should get a high enough list position to have  a second chance in his first election.

But media attention has led to social media attention, and that will never be all positive.

Under Simon Bridges the National Party seems to be under more influence of conservative Christian leanings. Luxon may add too that.

Stuff: National chooses former Air NZ boss Christopher Luxon as Botany MP candidate

Speaking to media immediately after he gained a majority of delegates’ votes in the first round, Luxon laid out his views on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and cannabis legalisation.

The 49-year-old Evangelical Christian had previously refused to talk about his views on abortion. But on Monday night he said he was personally against reform of abortion or euthanasia law.

Asked about the influence of his strong personal faith on his political views, Luxon said: “My faith is a very personal thing … it gives me mission and purpose.”

He cited the effect of cannabis on young people with mental health problems in saying he was against its legalisation for recreational use. But he was in favour of decriminalising medical use, he said.

Those views may be popular in the National Party at the moment, but may struggle for wider popular support.

​Luxon, armed with an endorsement from former prime minister (and current Air NZ board member) John Key was regarded as something of a favourite.

It was clear that some of the higher ups in the party’s non-parliamentary wing were keen to see such a celebrity CEO enter Parliament.

It also seems the media have been keen to see such a ‘celebrity CEO’ enter Parliament. and they have been helping promote it.

I think Luxon has already featured on a ‘preferred Prime Minister’ poll. Expect anything like that to be magnified by the media far beyond it’s significance as Luxon gets turbo charged by journalists who often seem more interested in making stories than fair and balanced democracy.

There’s nothing much us plebs can do about over the top and unbalanced media influence politics – except perhaps do more to make up our own minds and vote accordingly.

However with Luxon being gifted an electorate that should be easy for him to win the media are likely to come out on top there – picking and choosing future leaders to promote.

Shane Jones versus Christopher Luxon

Jacinda Ardern has just appointed Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon to head a new business advisory council – see Ardern announces Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.

It’s worth looking back to March 2018:  Shane Jones takes aim at Air New Zealand board, CEO Christopher Luxon

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has taken aim at the board of Air New Zealand, with his sights set on chairman Tony Carter first.

“Obviously you’d start with the chairman … I’m telling that board, in terms of the growth and connectivity in provincial New Zealand, it will not increase unless that board changes,” Jones told RNZ this morning.

“Do not poke your nose into the political boxing ring unless you’re going to resign today and join the ranks of the National Party. This is a legitimate issue on behalf of those provincial areas who have been shortchanged. I’ve said all along, my focus is on the board.”

Luxon has now joined the advisory ranks of the Labour led Government. Did NZ First approve of this? presumably so.

Ardern announces Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council

Adding to the many reviews, inquiries and whatever else government assistance groups have been called, Jacinda Ardern has announced a new business advisory council.

Stuff:  Air NZ boss to lead newly launched Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council

A new Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council is to be formed as Jacinda Ardern battles to get business on side.

The council, chaired by Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon, aims to build closer relationships between government and business.

Luxon said he was looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m excited to chair this important initiative because I think building a better, more sustainable New Zealand is a cause well worth putting all our collective efforts and energy behind – business leaders working together with government.

“I believe all New Zealanders, regardless of our backgrounds, are united in wanting to see a more prosperous economy, a more cohesive society, and an enhanced environment. At the end of the day we will all get the country we deserve.”

That sounds very jargony.

Ardern said it would provide her “high-level free and frank advice” on key economic issues and harness expertise from the private sector to develop the Government’s economic policies.

“The council will provide a forum for business leaders to advise me and the Government and to join us in taking the lead on some of the important areas of reform the Government is undertaking,” Ardern said.

“The council will report to me on opportunities it sees and identify emerging challenges. It will bring new ideas to the table on how we can scale up New Zealand businesses and grow our export led wealth.”

“I want to work closely with, and be advised by, senior business leaders who take a helicopter view of our economy, who are long-term strategic thinkers who have the time and energy to lead key aspects of our economic agenda.

“The council will complement the work the Government is already doing with the Small Business Council and business and union representative groups through the Tripartite Forum. Their work will focus on macro level economic strategy and active leadership on our economic agenda to build a more productive, inclusive and sustainable economy.”

Is this an admission that direct Government relations with the business community haven’t been adequate?

Has Grant Robertson failed to adequately connected with people in business, or has he failed to liaise with advise Ardern adequately?

Or does Ardern just recognise a need to work more closely with business leaders.