Jacinda Ardern and other ministers to take 20 percent pay cut amid coronavirus pandemic

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers, as well as public sector bosses like Dr Ashley Bloomfield, will take a 20 percent pay cut for the next six months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister said on Wednesday the pay cut for the next six months is recognition of "New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, taking pay cuts and losing their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic". 

The Prime Minister said she informed Opposition leader Simon Bridges about the planned pay cut, and the National Party leader later confirmed on Twitter that he informed Ardern that he is taking a 20 percent cut too. 

Ardern said ministers and public service CEOs "feel acutely" the struggle that many New Zealanders are facing and "so to do the people I work with on a daily basis". 

"While it in itself won't shift the Government's overall fiscal position, it is about leadership, and I acknowledge my colleagues both in the executive but also the colleagues we work with in the public service for the decision that was taken today."

She said the pay cut "stands alongside many actions taken by many people to tackle the economic challenges of COVID-19", and comes in addition to the wage subsidy scheme which has so far paid out more than $9 billion to 1.5 million Kiwis. 

"Of course, many people in our public sector are frontline essential workers - nurses, police, healthcare professionals. We are not suggesting pay cuts here and nor would New Zealanders find that appropriate," Ardern said.

"Rather, I’m responsible for the executive branch – myself and ministers – and this is where we can take action and that is why we have."

ACT leader David Seymour, who drafted legislation earlier this month proposing a 20 percent pay cut for MPs, said while the Prime Minister's announcement is "well-intentioned", it should extend to all lawmakers. 

"Businesses across the country are suffering from a sudden halt in revenue due to the lockdown. New Zealanders are doing it tough... It is only fair that all MPs show solidarity."