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Luxon and Fozzie: on the cusp of glory

Jamie Mackay,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Oct 2023, 5:00am
Photo / File
Photo / File

Luxon and Fozzie: on the cusp of glory

Jamie Mackay,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Oct 2023, 5:00am

The two most important men in New Zealand, Christopher Luxon and Ian Foster, have a lot in common.

Both are 50-somethings. Luxon is 53 and Fozzie is 58.

Both are challenged in the follicle department. Luxon has chosen the razor over the comb-over, while Fozzie can partially blame another type of Razor for helping him tear out a good portion of his remaining hair.

Both have known tough times from the public and the media since they took over their respective top jobs: Foster in 2019 and Luxon in 2021.

Both were being written-off only last year. Luxon in the personal likeability polls and by some in his own party. Foster by the public and, worse, his employer, when NZR boss Mark Robinson took the unprecedented step of flying all the way to Johannesburg to sack him. Fozzie was saved by a backs-to-the-wall, hard-graft performance by the All Blacks at Ellis Park; whilst Luxon’s greatest saviour was simply Labour itself.

Now both are now on the cusp of glorious victory. Luxon already has his, in everything but name only. Fozzie is 80 minutes (give or take a yellow or red card or two) away from being known as Sir Ian Foster.

If history is anything to go by, then Luxon might, statistically, be in the better position of the two.

In my lifetime, every National government elected has lasted at least three terms on the Treasury Benches. Keith Holyoake 1960-72 (four terms), Rob Muldoon 1975-84 (three), Jim Bolger/Jenny Shipley 1990-99 (three) and John Key/Bill English 2008-17 (three) all stood the test of time.

Christopher Luxon returning from watching the All Blacks semi-final

By contrast, no Labour government, with the notable exception of Helen Clark’s 1999-2008 tenure, has lasted for more than two terms. Norm Kirk/Bill Rowling 1972-75 (one) and Jacinda Ardern/Chris Hipkins 2017-23 (two) suffered significant defeats when the electoral tide went out for them.

History once again suggests that Luxon can set his sights on a three-term tenure, which would see him being PM until 2030.

Fozzie, though, has a much shorter life expectancy. He’s done after four years - win, lose or draw on Sunday morning at Stade de France against our greatest foe, the Springboks, in the Rugby World Cup final. That compares somewhat unfavourably to his most recent predecessors, Graham Henry (eight years) and Steve Hansen (also eight years).

By rights All Blacks coaches should fare better, with their four-year terms, than our Prime Ministers, with their three. But try telling that to Henry’s predecessors, John Mitchell and Wayne Smith!

Drawing further on the analogies, Luxon can lay claim to getting off to a flyer on the sporting front. Within 12 hours of being anointed Prime Minister-elect, the All Blacks had won a blockbuster, death or glory, RWC quarter final against Ireland. He even had the beleaguered Silver Ferns winning twice against the Aussies in the space of a few days.

Throw in a good lift in the Global Dairy Trade Auction last week alongside a better-than-expected drop in inflation and the new National leader can apparently do no wrong!

He does, of course, face some serious headwinds. An economy in decline, plus challenging and, some would say, insurmountable issues surrounding law and order, health, education, social welfare and the ballooning public service. Then there’s Winston!

But does Fozzie face a more insurmountable challenge against the Boks? Remembering we’ve only ever lost one RWC Final. And that was to South Africa in 1995. Then there’s Wayne Barnes!

Personally, I don’t think so. The (naturally) New Zealand-biased TAB has the All Blacks as a reasonable favourite in the two-horse race. I reckon it’s more of a flip-a-coin contest, with the game being decided by (perhaps) suspensions, injuries, yellow or red cards and goal kicking.

It’s time for utu. Twenty-eight years is a long time between drinks. Especially if it’s one of Suzie’s specialty Johannesburg coffees from ‘95.

If we can win this one under Luxon’s watch, then he is truly off to a magical start to his premiership and is arguably a lock-in at the TAB for the top job until 2030.

Time, and a long-range Jordie Barrett penalty goal, will no doubt tell.

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