At one of her trademark walkabouts at Manurewa today, it was Jacinda Ardern’s future beyond tomorrow’s election that was the focus of media attention, writes Tim Murphy
So assured does Jacinda Ardern’s second general election victory seem right now that the media questioning is leapfrogging tomorrow night, even her next term, and moving to what she goes on to do next.
After another seething mass of humanity gathered at Southmall, Manurewa, on Friday lunchtime to see the Labour leader and attempt to score a photo with her, reporters asked Ardern whether her declaration in the 1News debate on Thursday night that she would resign should she lose, was a new stance.
It isn’t. She says she has always held that view and would have voiced it early, or at any time in the campaign, had she been asked. National’s leader Judith Collins jumped on the admission to suggest Friday morning that Ardern might be eyeing an early resignation and a role at the United Nations.
The Prime Minister winced at the suggestion, saying again and again she did not see a role at the UN in her future. The suggestion was “part of that mischief-making” in the final week of a campaign.
“So, you have no interest in a job at the UN?”
“None at all?”
“No. Why would I if I’m running to be Prime Minister of New Zealand.”
And, at another point:
“How long would you like to be Prime Minister for?”
“Well, I’ve always said that I take each term as it comes. I’m running hard for this election. People often ask how long people intend to be in politics. I’ve been asked that since the day I arrived. I’ve always said I’m here as long as I believe I’m making a contribution.”
Ardern did say in response to that ‘defeat’ question in the debate that should she leave parliamentary politics, she would see herself having some role in continuing to “change politics” and the political process.
What kind of role could she have in mind?
“Yeah, I don’t have a defined view of what that could be,” she told media at Southmall. “I’d say I’d probably want to play some role to continue to encourage candidates to come forward from a diverse range of backgrounds.
“One of the things that I encounter a lot in this role – I go into schools a lot and I talk about politics and there are a bunch of young people who don’t think that they have the right personality or leadership or skills for politics.
“I want to change that perspective. So even if that’s just something I do on the side in the future, I’d like to keep playing that role.”
Sky News Australia‘s correspondent Jackson Williams then asked: “Would you like to stay in New Zealand?”
“Yeah, I … I have no plans to leave politics, right now, so I don’t know why everyone’s writing my obituary,” Ardern replied.
Jason Walls of the New Zealand Herald asked if her plans beyond the election might involve a wedding. To her obvious grimace, he added: “Someone had to do it.”
“Did they?” Ardern countered, and Williams, of SkyNews, interjected jokingly that Walls did not speak for the other assembled media.
“Where are you at with those [plans]. Is it a summer wedding or…?” Walls pressed.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed but tomorrow there’s an election and I’ve been quite focused on that. The idea of simultaneously organising a wedding AND running a national campaign is beyond me and my abilities.”