• Businessman – and Political Novice

    The drums are beating – see Heather Du Plessis-Allan in today’s Herald – for Christopher Luxon’s bid to become National’s new (and latest) leader.

    It is conceded that he is a political tyro but – such is National’s current plight – it is suggested that he is a risk worth taking. In any case, it is argued that he makes up for this lack of experience by the fact that he was the chief executive of a major corporation – Air New Zealand.

    Neither of these claims bears examination. In what other senior occupation – and there is none more senior than Leader of the Opposition, with the implication of readiness to become Prime Minister – would a complete lack of experience be waved aside as being of no consequence?

    Politics is something that can be learned only on the job – and senior politicians would usually take years, if not decades, to learn the ropes. For National to put a novice into a leadership position could only be regarded as a measure of their desperation.

    There is even less to commend the second part of the proposition – that time spent running a large corporation is adequate preparation, and a qualification, for running the country.

    There is all the difference in the world between the two tasks. Running a business has its challenges, of course, but the task is, in essence, a simple one – the bottom line is really all that matters. Running the country, on the other hand, poses a bewildering range of responsibilities, owed to a wide range of interests, all with their own individual as well as collective priorities.

    But the real objection to a businessman in Premier House is that it is fundamentally wrong and a threat to democracy. Pause for a moment and think about it.

    No one can doubt that a market economy provides business people with all the opportunity they need to succeed and prosper, often at the expense of the rest of us; the one thing they will know, after all, is how to manipulate the market to their own advantage. The only way we have of restraining their drive for personal advancement is to put in place political arrangements that ensure that the interests of the rest of us are taken into account.

    That is why we have political democracy. Centuries of experience have taught us that votes for all provide our best chance of ensuring that the advantages enjoyed in a market economy by business are not added to by handing them political power as well. If we were to install a business leader to lead the country, we would be giving up a protection that our forebears had fought to establish.

    For Christopher Luxon, having run Air New Zealand is far from a qualification for the top job but quite the opposite.

1 Comment

  1. Alec Morgan says: November 29, 2021 at 8:24 amReply

    Nicely put Bryan… “For Christopher Luxon, having run Air New Zealand is far from a qualification for the top job but quite the opposite.”

    Enjoy your posts, calm comment from someone who has been there and done that…so much online punditry is from hyperactive “death or glory” merchants. Reflection can be an overlooked skill in the digital media world.

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