Economy top priority as New Zealand prime minister takes office

27 November 2023, 03:34

New Zealand Politics
New Zealand Politics. Picture: PA

Christopher Luxon was sworn in as the leader of a coalition government on Monday.

Christopher Luxon has made improving the economy his top priority after being sworn in as New Zealand’s prime minister.

The 53-year-old former businessman leads a conservative coalition after his National Party struck a deal with two smaller parties following last month’s general election.

After Monday’s swearing-in ceremony, which was presided over by Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro, Mr Luxon said the job was an “awesome responsibility.”

He said he would look to finalise a 100-day plan quickly and planned a visit to Australia before Christmas.

Mr Luxon said he needed to get a Treasury briefing on the state of the government’s finances.

He said: “We are concerned and worried that it’s been a deteriorating picture for a number of months now.”

Under the coalition agreement, Mr Luxon has promised to deliver tax cuts and train 500 more police officers within two years, as well as less government bureaucracy with a 6.5% cut to the public service.

New Zealand Politics
New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, centre, walks with his coalition partners, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, right, and ACT leader David Seymour (Mark Mitchell/NZ Herald/AP)

The new government also plans to repeal tobacco restrictions approved last year, including requirements for low nicotine levels in cigarettes, fewer retailers and a lifetime ban for youth.

“We will continue to make sure we have good education programs and encourage people to take up vapes as a cessation tool,” Luxon said.

Critics said the plan was a setback for public health and a win for the tobacco industry.

Chris Hipkins officially resigned as the nation’s 41st prime minister on Monday and said he wished Mr Luxon and his coalition partners well. He said the country had been through tough times, but the economy was turning a corner.

Mr Hipkins, who held the top job for 10 months after Jacinda Ardern unexpectedly resigned in January, plans to remain in Parliament as opposition leader.

By Press Association

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