Christopher Luxon on the money with 'caring' comment

3 February 2022

Christopher Luxon’s comment that centre-right parties can seem uncaring and only focused on the economy is a breath of fresh air. This is so true, but it’s because their framing is all wrong.

Let’s look at minimum wage laws as an example. Centre-right Governments are less inclined to increase minimum wages in tough economic times. They justify this by saying things like, “it’s bad for the economy” or “businesses can’t afford it.” Lots of people interpret this as, “they’re just supporting their rich mates.”

But what if they said this: “We’d love to increase the minimum wage but the unintended consequences would be harmful. I met a small business owner last week who said he’d have to lay off half his staff if his wage bill increased. While it’s tough on everyone, I suspect an increase in the minimum wage would see this happen across the country in the current environment.”

This is hypothetical to make a point, but it shows how differently an issue can be framed. They should be framing many issues in a more caring way and explain why they take that view, particularly when it comes to the economy.

The same goes for terms they use like ‘fiscally responsible’ or ‘current account deficits.” They are far too abstract and won’t be understood by Joe Bloggs Joe in the street.

My point is that all policies have trade-offs, whether on the left or the right. Currently the left has the monopoly on caring and empathy and it works for them. But the right would argue that their polices are the most caring and not just the most ‘economically prudent.’ They need to change their framing to put a human face on their policies.  Christopher Luxon appears to have recognised this.

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Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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