“We have become a very negative, wet, whiny, inward-looking country and we have lost the plot,” whined Christopher Luxon negatively, as he stood on a muddy plot of land in the countryside.
He’s got a habit of bagging us, does Mr Luxon. When he was in London, he told a right-wing think tank that we have “gone soft”. He called us “fearful, inward and negative” talking to the Sydney Morning Herald.
It leaves you wondering why he wants to lead us. Because he doesn’t seem to like us. Maybe it’s just for his ego. Maybe it’s so he can get the taxpayer to buy him another Tesla.
When I hear Mr Luxon moaning, I don’t know what country he’s talking about, because it isn’t the Aotearoa New Zealand I see.
I see a country that’s embracing our diverse cultures, that’s delivering full employment and strong wage growth. A country that’s building more homes than ever, and welcoming people from all over the world to help us build a better tomorrow.
I see an Aotearoa where we’re showing we can cut emissions without closing down our industry. I see a country that has been an inspiration to the world in how we have dealt with Covid and shown that looking after each other is the best path for both people and the economy.
I see a country with 4000 more nurses, 1800 more cops, and where an experienced teacher can now earn more than $100,000 a year. I see an Aotearoa where we have lifted 77,000 children out of poverty in five years, and we can end poverty for all, if we choose it.
Maybe Mr Luxon was talking about his own caucus. Negative about minimum wage increases. Wet behind the ears when it comes to experience. Whining about bilingual road signs. Inward-looking to the point where their top priority is a tax cut on their rentals. Lost the plot to the extent they would scrap climate policies during the middle of a climate emergency.
Despite Mr Luxon’s relentless moaning every time he’s in the media, all his talking down of Aotearoa doesn’t change the truth: this is a wonderful country, rich in people, natural beauty and resources, and wealthy enough that we can afford a decent life for everyone.
The Greens have put forward a positive plan to lift the poorest among us out of poverty and improve the incomes of nearly everyone else. And all it would take is a tiny tax on the wealth of the richest 0.7 per cent. Me included
A couple with $5 million in assets, over and above any debt, would pay just $25,000 a year more – and that money would lift several kids out of poverty, helping to make sure they have enough kai to eat and a good place to live.
That doesn’t sound very negative to me. It sounds like a positive, inspiring plan. It’s a plan that says, “We don’t have to live with poverty, we can solve it.” And it’s even costed to show the money adds up, unlike National’s policies.
The only whining I hear is from the very few who have accumulated great wealth in this country, thanks to its natural bounty and the strong society and economy we have built together, and don’t think they need to give anything back. From some older Pākehā who frequent Mr Luxon’s meetings, who don’t see the irony in calling themselves “Kiwi” while complaining about “all this Māori language”. From landlords who want tax breaks so they can afford to buy up more houses. From a small portion of farmers who don’t want to pay for their emissions but want a government handout when climate change leads to floods and droughts affecting their land.
Maybe Mr Luxon needs to get out of his negative bubble. Stop talking to echo chambers of people who are opposed to change. Stop putting down Aotearoa every chance he gets and look at the positive stuff that’s happening.
How about it, Mr Luxon?
Visit a Kāinga Ora build site and watch young people creating homes for whānau.
Come to Te Matatini and see the pride of hundreds of performers and thousands of visitors celebrating the culture that is unique to these islands.
Talk to a new police officer who is proud to be serving her community.
Meet with business leaders who are showing they can cut their emissions and grow their profits at the same time.
Examine the positive ideas to further cut poverty that the Greens and others are putting up. Take it as a challenge to come up with an even better idea, rather than whining that nothing can be done.
Come on, Mr Luxon, stop talking us down at every opportunity and show us a positive vision, instead.
Shane Te Pou (Ngāi Tūhoe) is a commentator, blogger and former Labour Party activist.