With a rousing speech at New Zealand’s cultural heart, Jacinda Ardern has revved up the Labour Party faithful as she begins her bid for re-election.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister addressed her annual party congress at Te Papa, NZ’s national museum in Wellington, kick-starting the party’s campaign and revealing Labour’s slogan; “Let’s keep moving”.
Polls have Ms Ardern’s government on track to be comfortably returned on September 19, possibly as Labour’s first majority government since a new electoral system in 1996.
Ms Ardern is at the centre of that bid.
"Economic growth accompanied by worsening social outcomes is not success, it is failure" Jacinda Ardern pic.twitter.com/dHoFJePWFS
— The Female Lead (@the_female_lead) June 27, 2020
The 39-year-old’s personal popularity has soared after her government’s response to COVID-19, which has seen NZ eliminate the deadly virus from the community.
At Te Papa, warm-up speakers calls Ms Ardern “our nation’s saviour” and “truly, the best of us”.
As Labour puts Ms Ardern front and centre, the PM herself hopes Kiwis will reward her government for its response to multiple tragedies during its three-year term.
“I can’t think of a time in our recent history when we have been collectively challenged by such a cruel combination of events,” Ms Ardern said.
“A terrorist attack. A volcanic eruption. A global pandemic and now its ensuing financial crisis.
“Our national character has been repeatedly put to the test and yet we have come back with an almost stronger sense of ourselves and of what matters most to us.”
❤️ 🇳🇿 🧬 Imagine what it must be like to have leadership like this, a PM who truly and sincerely values science and science communication. My many NZ friends and family are so lucky to have Jacinda Ardern at this or anytime 🧬 ❤️ 🇳🇿
— Dr Adam Rutherford (@AdamRutherford) July 1, 2020
Reaching a crescendo of applause the crowd responded by rising to their feet, draped in party red and holding “Let’s keep moving” placards.
“There wasn’t a playbook for COVID. There wasn’t a playbook for the recovery. And speaking frankly, there hasn’t been one for much of what has happened this term,” she said.
“But as a team of five million we have achieved so much anyway.
“We have shown grit and determination. We have shown unity.
“So let’s keep up the momentum. Let’s keep rolling out our plan. Let’s keep rebuilding.
“Let’s keep moving.”
With COVID-19 currently confined to the country’s border-quarantine regime, parties are ramping up their campaigning efforts, free of restrictions.
There are just nine scheduled parliamentary sitting days until the September 19 poll, with advance voting starting in two months.
Labour, and coalition partners, New Zealand First and the Greens, will also spend up big.
Ms Ardern has pledged to avoid austerity during the onset of recession, and the government’s budget has a $NZ20 billion ($A18.8 billion) “COVID Response and recovery Fund” to dish out.
On Sunday, she made just two new announcements.
A $NZ162 million ($A152 million) for projects designed to return dirty waterways to health, and the extension of a small business loan scheme which has already paid out $NZ1.5 billion ($A1.4 billion).