Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, has been forced to apologise after she was caught on a hot mic on Tuesday insulting a rival politician. After five years in the top job, Ms Ardern is gearing up for a tough election campaign next year.
Her centre-left Labour Party won re-election two years ago in a landslide of historic proportions, but recent polls have put her party behind its conservative rivals.
The comment came after David Seymour, who leads the libertarian ACT party, peppered Ardern with questions about her government’s record for roughly seven minutes during Parliament’s Question Time, which allows for spirited debate between rival parties.
As an aside to her deputy Grant Robertson, Ardern said what sounded like, “He’s such an arrogant p****,” after sitting down.
Her words were barely audible on Parliament TV, but were unfortunately picked up in the background by her desk microphone as House Speaker Adrian Rurawhe talks.
Ms Ardern’s office said she apologised to Seymour for the comment.
When asked to clarify, her staff did not dispute the remark.
In a subsequent interview Mr Seymour confirmed she had used such words.
He said: “I’m absolutely shocked and astonished at her use of language.
JUST IN: University of Brighton staff advised not to say ‘Christmas’
Mr Seymour, who said he admired some of Ms Ardern’s political skills immensely, said he had written back to Ms Ardern thanking her for the apology and wishing her a very Merry Christmas.
During the course of the debate, Ms Ardern cited several occasions when her Labour administration had acknowledged there had not been “perfect responses”, including in its Covid response.
She added: “We have openly said, for instance, that managed isolation and quarantine was something that was very difficult at the time and that there were people that were affected by it and that we would do things differently if we were ever confronted with it again.”
The latest 1News/Kantar poll published earlier this month suggested Christopher Luxon’s National Party has opened up a five-point lead over Labour in the primary vote, while minor parties have also saw a rise in support.
ACT, regarded as a right-wing and libertarian party, registered 11 percent.