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Luxon sworn in as New Zealand prime minister

Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon speaks at the announcement of the new government in New Zealand, in the Banquet Hall of the Parliament Buildings in Wellington, New Zealand, 24 November 2023. EFE/EPA/MARK COOTE AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

WELLINGTON: Former airline boss Christopher Luxon formally took office as New Zealand’s prime minister on Monday, vowing to tame inflation and bring down interest rates.

Luxon took over six weeks after his conservative National Party won national elections, ending a six-year Labour Party reign ushered in by Jacinda Ardern.

Luxon, 53, once chief executive of Air New Zealand, was sworn in as head of a new coalition government by New Zealand’s governor-general in a ceremony in the capital Wellington.

“It is an honour and an awesome responsibility,” Luxon told reporters.

“The number one job is to fix the economy. We have to reduce the cost of living and get inflation under control so we can lower interest rates and make food more affordable.”

Luxon said his new government would also focus in its first few months on restoring law and order and improving public services.

“We need to go to work,” he said.

The former Labour government struggled to control the rising cost of living, a global issue blamed in part on pandemic-related supply issues and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The previous prime minister, Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins, took over from Ardern in January.

She had unexpectedly resigned, calling an end to her five-year period in office because she no longer had “enough in the tank.”

Luxon said his cabinet would meet over the next two days to determine their plans for the first 100 days in office.

National has also said it wants to crack down on crime, ban cellphones in schools and scrap planned fuel tax hikes.

“A lot of our focus is on tackling the underlying cause of inflation,” Luxon said.

“That means a series of things to make sure we generate savings out of the public service and that government spending is prudent.”

He also said his government would scrap anti-smoking legislation adopted last year that bans sales of tobacco to anyone born after 2008.

Luxon became the country’s 42nd prime minister following protracted coalition talks came to an agreement on Friday.

His National party has formed a three-party coalition with the conservative ACT and populist New Zealand First parties to govern in the 123-seat parliament.

In a first for New Zealand, the deputy prime minister role will be shared in two 18-month stints.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, 78, was sworn in alongside Luxon as deputy prime minister, but will hand over the role at the end of May 2025.

He will be replaced by ACT leader David Seymour for the remainder of the three-year parliamentary term.

Luxon, a father of two, is a wealthy teetotaller and lover of country music who rose to prominence when he ran the national airline for seven years before entering politics. 

Source: New Straits Times

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