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Jacinda Ardern on MP scandals, Winston Peters and Tiwai Point

The Country,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Jul 2020, 3:45PM
Photo / NZ Herald

Jacinda Ardern on MP scandals, Winston Peters and Tiwai Point

The Country,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 Jul 2020, 3:45PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she vows to keep doing her bit to "make sure that we meet the expectations of the public" after a week of political upheaval and scandal.

"We ultimately do need to take responsibility for making Parliament a place that people can have some faith in and a bit of trust in," Ardern told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

Yesterday the Prime Minister dismissed Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway from Cabinet after an affair with a former staffer member was revealed.

Lees-Galloway's sacking followed National MP Andrew Falloon's resignation after it emerged he had sent indecent images to a young woman.

"We're there to do a job on behalf of our communities and stories like what we've seen in recent days serve no one," Ardern said.

It was common for rumours to circulate about politicians, especially in an election year, said Ardern.

"The vast majority of the time [these rumours] are utterly false and it would be better for everyone if it wasn't ... the nature of politics. But it's happened to successive governments, successive leaders, successive politicians - doesn't mean it's right though."

Mackay asked if Ardern would consider a truce with Opposition leader Judith Collins, in an attempt to make this year's election about the issues, rather than personal politics.

"That's always been my position and I'd like to think that I've upheld that" said Ardern, referring to the fact that she had received information on Falloon's discrepancies and took it to Collins instead of the media.

"We did get a message about Andrew Falloon ... I actually didn't know it was about him, I was very explicit that I did not want to know who it involved, I just wanted to directly go to the Leader of the Opposition and say nothing of it and leave it there."

"So that from my view - that's the way that we should handle things like this - don't play them out publicly. Give them to the people who can do something about it and act with integrity."

"That's been my approach as leader. I don't think we should get into personality politics, I think we should focus on the issues - that's what people elect us for."

"I can only take responsibility for my team and my actions, but I hope that other leaders do the same."

Mackay asked about Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters stymieing a rescue package for Southland, in the wake of the likely closure of Tiwai Smelter.

"Yes we did want to show that support ... that was not the view of the Deputy Prime Minister and so that's his prerogative" said Ardern.

"But I have given the commitment to those regional mayors and economical development agencies that in the coming months, after the election, if we're back in government I would be looking to financially support the work that they're doing to create those jobs."

However, Ardern insisted Peters' actions did not illustrate that any future Labour-led coalition would be more comfortable with the Green Party than New Zealand First.

"It's up to members of the public to determine which option it is that they think is the best one."

Also in today's interview: Ardern talked about the Government's five point plan specific to Covid-19 response and recovery.

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