'This stardust won't settle' - Jacinda Ardern

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has hit back at her opponent Bill English's latest line of attack on her.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister said once the "stardust" had settled and Ms Ardern's honeymoon as new leader was over, the focus of the election campaign would shift away from personality and back to policy.

Ms Ardern ran with the line during the Stuff Leaders' Debate on Thursday night. Each of the leaders was given three minutes on the mic to kick off the debate - Ms Ardern said she didn't need three minutes because the crowd would be hearing enough from her over the next 90.

But she did want to share "one simple message".

"This stardust won't settle, because none of us should settle," she told the raucous Christchurch crowd.

"None of us should settle. Christchurch shouldn't settle. New Zealand shouldn't settle for anything less than taking on head-on the challenges that we face this election."

She said sticking with the status quo - National and its allies - was a bigger risk to the future of New Zealand than taking a punt on Labour and its 37-year-old leader, who's only been in the party's top job for just over a month.

"There is risk we'll continue to have home ownership out of reach for the next generation. It's already the worst it's been in 60 years, and if we continue down this track it'll keep getting worse."

Later in the debate, she asked Mr English what he meant by "stardust".

"I just mean the whole focus on a person who comes in as a new leader," Mr English said.

"I think people really took notice of that, handled it well early on. But now the issue is about what makes a difference to people's lives. If you're going to say for instance that climate change is the nuclear-free issue of our generation, then what are your plans for climate change?"

Ms Ardern used that opportunity to outline Labour's plans to strengthen the Emissions Trading Scheme, then explain why it was important for New Zealand to get to know her as a person, as well as her party's agenda.

"People should know who they're voting for. They should know what our character traits are, they should know how we're going to react in a test of leadership, what our values are," she explained.

"When you're in leadership, you're going to be thrown tests along the way and you need to know how we'll respond to them. So yes, people should know us. That should never be at the expense of us talking about our specific policies, our specific plans and our intent over the next three years. There's a balance there to be struck."

Labour is due to release its climate policy on Friday, while Mr English will be in Auckland promoting National's transport and economic development strategies.

The minor party leaders, minus Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters, will be debating Friday evening.

Newshub.

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