Former Air NZ chief Christopher Luxon defended his Christian faith in his maiden speech in Parliament tonight.
“It seems it has become acceptable to stereotype those who have a Christian faith in public life as being ‘extreme’, so I will say a little about my Christian faith.
“It has anchored me, given my life purpose and shaped my values – and it puts me in the context of something bigger than myself,” he said.
His faith had a strong influence on who he was and how he related to people.
“I see Jesus showing compassion, tolerance and care for others. He doesn’t judge, discriminate or reject people. He loves unconditionally.”
Throughout history, Christians had made a huge difference in public life.
“Christian abolitionists fought against slavery. Others educated the poor and challenged the rich to share their wealth and help others less fortunate.”
The world was a better place for Christians such as William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King and Kate Sheppard contributing to public life.
“My faith is personal to me,” said Luxon.
“It is not in itself a political agenda. I believe no religion should dictate to the state. And no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others.
“As MPs we serve the common cause of all New Zealanders – not one religion, not one group, and not one interest.
“A person should not be elected because of their faith and nor should they be rejected because of it. Democracy thrives on diverse thinking and different world views.”
Luxon was elected National MP for Botany in last year’s election, having served seven years as chief executive of Air New Zealand. He is also a former chairman of Jacinda Ardern’s Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.
He has been mentored by former prime minister Sir John Key and is considered a likely future National Party leader.
Luxon also laid out his more liberal credentials and said that as Air New Zealand CEO he had the opportunity to get things done and demonstrate “could do well and also do good”.
“For example, we decided that New Zealand’s shameful record of family violence was a workplace issue as well as a social issue so we introduced a three-week paid family violence leave policy for victims.”
The pay equity gap at Air New Zealand had been reduced to zero and senior leadership team positions held by women went from 16 per cent to 44 per cent.
“We worked hard to grow career pathways and internships for young Māori and Pasifika. We worked hard to champion and mainstream te reo and tā moko. We earned gender and rainbow tick certifications.”
Air New Zealand was also a foundation member of the Climate Leaders Coalition -100 per cent of its car fleet became fully electric – over five years ago.
When the business had delivered superior commercial returns, it shared those profits with employees through a company performance bonus.
“The principle was simple – that when Air New Zealand did well, all our staff should do well too.
He understood that a country was not a company and that people looked to the Government to get things done. But there was talking about it, and doing it.
“Talking about it gets you a headline but only doing it makes a difference.”
New Zealand had a great future.
“We can do better, be more prosperous, and more ambitious if we think strategically, solve problems, deliver results and get things done.
“I don’t want to settle for mediocrity and I don’t believe other New Zealanders want it either.”
Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds and Southland MP Joseph Mooney also gave their maiden speeches.
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