More than a third of New Zealanders think Jacinda Ardern is too overseas-focused

As the Prime Minister prepares to jet off to Bangkok for the East Asia Summit, she's fired a parting shot at Simon Bridges, calling him "desperate" over his "part-time PM" comments.

Bridges, leader of the National Party, labelled Jacinda Ardern a "part-time Prime Minister" in July when she travelled to Tokelau during the Ihumātao protests.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson described the remarks at the time as "disrespectful" and "sexist".

"I'm very conscious of my engagement overseas and I've reflected on past Prime Ministers and what they've done," Ardern told Newshub.

She says it's about the same as other New Zealand Prime Ministers. But Bridges thinks she's too focused overseas and not on the issues at home.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll asked New Zealanders: "Is the Prime Minister too focused overseas?"

  • Most said no: 55.3 percent
  • But more than a third think Ardern is too overseas-focused: 35.9 percent
  • Even some Labour voters agree: 14.3 percent

"A considerable group of New Zealanders agree the Prime Minister is more comfortable overseas than in New Zealand, whether it's at the UN or Vogue," Bridges said.

In the past, Ardern has not really engaged over the comments, but today she had a crack at the Opposition leader.

"I recognise it as being a statement from the Opposition who are a bit desperate and out on the attack."

Bridges said it's the Government "increasingly getting desperate, not the Opposition".

The Newshub-Reid Research Poll also asked New Zealanders if Bridges' "part-time Prime Minister" comment was sexist.

  • The majority didn't think so: 66.2 percent
  • But a quarter of voters think it was sexist: 25.3 percent
  • That includes some National supporters: 10.4 percent

"It's wrong; it's actually factually incorrect and wrong," Ardern said.

Bridges sees it differently, telling Newshub: "I was talking straight and that's what New Zealanders want to see."

Whether it's straight-talking or a desperate attack, Bridges seems to have struck a line that's working for him.

And although most New Zealanders don't think the Prime Minister is too overseas-focused, the fact that more than a third do will niggle at Ardern.

Representing New Zealand overseas is in the job description.