New Zealand's Ardern launches election campaign with promises of jobs, financing

By Lidia Kelly

With promises of extra financing for small businesses and more jobs as a severe economic downturn looms, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday launched her party's campaign ahead of September general election.

Ardern's rise to become New Zealand's most popular prime minister in a century, buoyed by her response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has left the country largely unscathed, has boosted her prospects in the Sept. 19 election.

Ardern's Labour Party, governing in a coalition with the Greens and the nationalist New Zealand First party, will face the National Party in what is expected to be a pandemic-dominated campaign.

If the prime minister's high ratings are mirrored in the election results, Labour would govern on its own, without needing a coalition.

The government's early and hard coronavirus curbs that paralysed economic activity have put the country in a technical recession for the first time in a decade.

"There wasn't a playbook for COVID," Ardern said at the Labour Party congress. "There wasn't a playbook for the recovery."

She said a loan scheme for small businesses, which allows for no interest loans if paid back within a year and which was to end this month, will be extended until the year-end, and more environmental and infrastructure jobs will be created under a previously announced plan.

Small and medium-sized enterprises generate about a third of New Zealand's gross domestic product.

"I can't think of a time in our recent history when we have been collectively challenged by such a cruel combination of events – a terrorist attack, a volcanic eruption, a global pandemic and now its ensuing financial crisis," Ardern said.

Her leadership, widely seen as compassionate and steely, after last year's killing of 51 Muslim worshippers in the country's worst mass shooting, and after the December eruption of a volcano that killed 21, has brought Ardern worldwide admiration.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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While I'm anti-Labour government, it's almost guaranteed she'll win a second term. In fairness to her, there are no better alternatives.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

She is completely incapable of delivering. Great at announcing but that is it. Hopefully Todd Muller becomes PM in September.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Todd Muller will be lucky if he can walk after putting his foot in his mouth so often. All he is good for is moaning about how poor Labour's plans are but has none of his own. He was against the lock down before he was for it. Removes Maori from his front benches, hangs the Maori flag upside down, says he was elected by Labour.. I know he's a good bloke but he is not a great leader.

Labour will get 4 years to actually deliver on jobs and some major infrastructure projects. Housing and transport.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Broken promises and failures one after another are going to be her legacy, comrade adern your time is up.

She announced her government would be transparent, and it is, every one can see right through it.

Loved by the socialists, the communists and those with no clue, however anyone with even more than half a functioning brain cell know she is a muppet leading a barely coherent bunch in parliment.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Labour are great on PR, but absolutely atrocious on delivering. 100K affordable houses anyone? It is easy to be popular when you are giving money away.

Their ministers lack depth and experience, and when screw ups occur, Jacinda refuses to fire anyone (primarily because there are few few able to set up into the the positions.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Simon g - 4 years?

I agree though. I was not pleased when Winston chose Ardern but I just can’t see the current National crowd doing anything decent in the near future... at least nothing to take the popularity from Ardern. National is going to lose a lot of support if they continue to put up billboards like the one that said “putting the ‘our’ in Aotearoa”

3 ( +3 / -0 )

She definitely has the Muslim and anti-gun vote but will that be enough?

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Whatever happens, houses will get more expensive, wages will stagnate, and the muppets over there will continue to farm each other. So glad I left.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Arden, neoliberal progeny of the vile Blair creature, needs to be put out to pasture - and fast.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

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