'I'm pretty hard to offend': PM addresses 'stick to your knitting' comment

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Jun 2020, 3:00PM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern chats with staff at Trevelyan's kiwifruit packhouse in Te Puke. Photo / George Novak

'I'm pretty hard to offend': PM addresses 'stick to your knitting' comment

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Jun 2020, 3:00PM

The Prime Minister denies that the extension of the wage subsidy scheme being extended to September is an electoral move. 

The first round of wage subsidies stop from today. Businesses which have experienced a 40 percent drop in revenue due to Covid-19 can apply for the second round of subsidies.

That scheme will go for another eight weeks, extending it towards the election on September 19. 

Asked by The Country's Jamie Mackay if he was cynical to think the extension is to benefit the Government, Jacinda Ardern says that he is. 

"We've always said our focus is on supporting the vulnerable and the viable, and those have predominantly been a big take up from our small and medium sized enterprises and they just need that extra support. 

Ardern also defended her criticism of The Warehouse after they announced they were cutting 1,000 staff.

The comments earned Ardern criticism from some sectors, including from National MP Paul Goldsmith, who said she should "stick to her knitting".

The Prime Minister told Mackay that she was just expressing frustration that small businesses are trying to hold onto their staff, and that it appears that that desire to hold onto staff is not being seen across the board.

Asked if she was offended by Goldsmith's comments, Ardern said:  "I'd pretty hard to offend." 

After two months of fronting the public on an almost daily basis on the Covid-19 response, some commentators have suggested Ardern needs to take a break.

Mackay asked if the rest of Cabinet is "match-ready" should such a break happen, as they have not been as prominent during lockdown - something Ardern refuted. 

"Lockdown meant that we did exactly what the rest of New Zealand was doing," she said, with ministers "working hard" from home. 

She notes that ministers who were not as publicly prominent such as Carmel Sepuloni and Stuart Nash were vital behind the scenes in coming up with plans to tackle the financial fallout of Covid-19.