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Christopher Luxon's international travel plans waylaid after minor breakdown on NZDF aircraft in PNG

Jenée Tibshraeny,
Publish Date
Sun, 16 Jun 2024, 3:43pm
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Christopher Luxon's international travel plans waylaid after minor breakdown on NZDF aircraft in PNG

Jenée Tibshraeny,
Publish Date
Sun, 16 Jun 2024, 3:43pm

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s international travel plans have been somewhat waylaid by a minor breakdown.

While refuelling in Papua New Guinea, the New Zealand Defence Force 757 plane suffered a blown fuse and has been delayed.

A spokesman for the Defence Force said it will likely only take an hour to fix.

However, the Prime Minister and his delegation are still expected to land in Tokyo later tonight.

Earlier, Luxon fronted media alongside his Papua New Guinea counterpart to discuss the two countries’ close ties and express New Zealand’s heartfelt sympathies over the recent deadly landslide.

Luxon has set high standards for himself and the 31 businesspeople he’s travelling to Japan with this week.

He wants the three days in Tokyo to boost New Zealand’s exports, increase Japanese investment in New Zealand, and enhance the countries’ geopolitical ties.

Speaking to the Herald ahead of the trip, Luxon – who will be accompanied by Trade Minister Todd McClay – talked up particular opportunities for the space and renewable energy sectors.

With a meeting lined up with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Luxon also saw scope for more sharing of intelligence between the countries, as well as more collaboration on defence.

Luxon didn’t believe Aukus, which China sees as a threat, would feature heavily in discussions, but wanted Royal New Zealand Air Force planes to have greater access to Japanese airports.

Despite being condemned by some in the business community for criticising New Zealand when overseas, he inadvertently singled out New Zealand businesses as he attacked the Labour-led Government.

Luxon said the problem in the past was the businesses “weren’t able to convert well enough”, or turn talk into dollars, during trade trips.

He believed this trip would be different, with the top leadership from the country’s largest companies involved.

“We’ve got the right players that are going to build business in Japan, rather than just attending and coming along for the ride,” Luxon said.

“They’ve got business to do.”

Those on the trip include Luxon’s successor, Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran, ANZ chief executive Antonia Watson, Rocket Lab chief executive Sir Peter Beck, Air New Zealand and ASB chair Dame Therese Walsh, Fonterra director Simon Tucker, Morrison chief executive Paul Newfield, New Zealand Super Fund head of direct investment Will Goodwin, Canterbury University vice chancellor Cheryl de la Re, Xero chief executive Sukhinder Cassidy, Seequent chief executive Graham Grant and Zespri chair Nathan Flowerday.

Luxon wanted both businesses and the Government to tap into Japan’s deep pools of capital.

He saw scope for the Japanese to help plug New Zealand’s infrastructure deficit, but isn’t going to Japan with specific pitches.

He said the Government would have more to say about planning, financing and foreign investment settings later in the year.

“I’ve requested that everywhere I go now, I have a two-hour lunch with big investors that have billions of dollars to invest – not just wealthy individuals, but actually proper institutional funds,” Luxon said.

“We need all of those funds to understand, we’re open for business.”

Luxon didn’t mention the fact last year one of the world’s largest fund managers, BlackRock, committed to investing $2 billion in clean energy in New Zealand, after former Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern met with its chief executive Larry Fink in New York.

Luxon said New Zealand needed a more “external orientation” and he was focused on “refiring that up”.

“I need to lift the best firms in New Zealand to become globally frontiered firms,” he said.

“We don’t have the scale of the big businesses that we need to have.”

Luxon said New Zealand’s problem is that those offshore “think we’re lovely – they think we’re nice – but they don’t think we’re very relevant”.

He believed foreigners thought the following of New Zealand: “They are small, they don’t really matter and we haven’t heard from them very much recently.”

Asked whether there were specific impediments to boosting New Zealand’s exports to Japan that the Government could remove, Luxon said the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) made for “good trading architecture” with Japan.

As a small country, he said, “You have to be able to make sure you win share of mind, not just share of market.”

On foreign affairs, Luxon said he “may” discuss Aukus Pillar Two with Kishida.

“It won’t be high on my agenda,” he said, having just hosted a high-ranking Chinese premier in New Zealand, Li Qiang.

Aukus is a defence agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. It’s controversial because it could involve the use of nuclear submarines.

Luxon said Pillar Two is about what a specific country can contribute to the alliance.

He said New Zealand is exploring, in its own right, whether there is an opportunity to participate in Pillar Two.

“We will need to make our own assessment,” Luxon said.

“We’re in very early stages of working through with officials from Australia, the UK and US. It’s pretty ill-defined and abstract.”

Jenée Tibshraeny is the Herald’s Wellington business editor, based in the Parliamentary press gallery. She specialises in government and Reserve Bank policymaking, economics and banking.

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