New Zealand’s Ardern begins ‘COVID election’ campaign with job promises
WELLINGTON (NEW ZEALAND) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday kickstarted her re-election campaign by pledging a “laser-like” focus on boosting job opportunities and economic growth, which have been hit by the pandemic.
Riding on her popularity wave, she is eyeing an easy win in the Sept. 19 election, according to surveys. She won global acclaim for the manner in which she handled the coronavirus pandemic.
It has been 99 days since New Zealand had any local transmission of infections, which is a rare feat. It has also reopened the economy after a total shutdown to halt the spread of the virus.
“When people ask, is this a COVID election, my answer is yes, it is,” the charismatic leader told her supporters in Auckland for the launch of her Labour Party’s re-election campaign.
In her maiden campaign speech, the leader promised to allot NZ$311 million ($205.32 million) for getting 40,000 Kiwis back in work.
This corpus will allow business houses to enjoy a subsidy of NZ$7500, and up to NZ$22,000, to hire unemployed citizens.
“The new Flexi-wage scheme is a key plank of our economic plan to support businesses to recover and to provide jobs to those who have lost work due to COVID,” Ardern said.
At a time when most countries are still under lockdown curbs, New Zealand won plaudits for successfully eradicating the pandemic from its shores and reopening the economy.
Ardern was introduced to the stage by her partner and fiance Clark Gayford. She spoke of her unexpected rise to power in 2017 and the handling of tragedies that befell the country, including the Christchurch mosque shooting and the White Island volcanic eruption.
“If you had told me then that our launch in 2020 would be in the midst of a global pandemic with our borders closed – I would have found that very hard to fathom,” she said.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field