Jacinda Ardern's message to voters who might be put-off by Parliament's sex scandals

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Newshub

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hopes voters put-off by Parliament's latest sex scandals will recognise that she dealt with them "swiftly" and is prioritising issues that matter to them. 

"It all comes down to when matters arise how we deal with them and to getting back to focusing on the things that people put us into Parliament for," Ardern told reporters in Taranaki on Thursday. 

"Right now it's things like a global pandemic and our recovery from COVID. I'd like to think that you'll have seen me deal with them swiftly, decisively, and getting back to the things that people actually elect us to deal with."

Ardern stripped Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway of all his ministerial portfolios on Wednesday after National Party leader Judith Collins tipped her off about a relationship he had with a former staffer. 

"Over a 12-month period he displayed an ongoing lack of judgment that he is the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety and I expect him to model the behaviours that we would expect in that kind of role," Ardern said. 

It followed Ardern tipping off Collins the week before about allegations ex-National MP Andrew Falloon had sent an inappropriate sexual image to a 19-year-old, which led Collins to pressure him into resigning on Tuesday. 

Collins revealed on Thursday that "at least five" women have come forward with complaints against Falloon, and police have now confirmed a fresh investigation has been launched.  

Auckland University Professor of Politics Jennifer Curtin told The AM Show on Thursday the recent political scandals could hurt voter turnout in September. 

But Ardern hopes that won't be the case. 

"I made a commitment when I became [the] leader of the Labour Party three years ago that ours would be a party that would conduct itself during elections and during [our] parliamentary term with integrity," she said. 

"It's up to us to uphold that and it's the only way we will restore people's faith in our system."

Ardern said voters will judge each party's record.

"I've made a commitment to not engaging in the personal to focus on the things that matter to people like our COVID recovery. That's what I'm going to stick to, including during an election campaign."

She said politicians are put to the test during election campaigns. 

"I think that ultimately during election time, that's the time when all politicians are put to the test to maintain a standard. We as the Labour Party will continue to do that. 

"It's up to us to make sure that people have faith in our system and to ensure that we act with integrity."

Ardern said she's mindful that voters will want to see MPs focus on things that affect them.

"I'm constantly mindful that during an election voters have an expectation that we stick to the issues. That's what we'll do. That's our job and that's what I've been committed to for the last three years."

Collins told reporters she hopes anyone with complaints against Falloon will feel confident enough to come forward. 

"Knowing that there are other victims should give some comfort to those victims who have not yet decided to come forward," Collins said. "If there are more, please come forward. It's clearly a pattern of behaviour.

"The main thing I think with the sort of behaviour is that it tends to be quite secret. People involved in this sort of behaviour that he's clearly indulged in are manipulative and I think it's best-placed with the police now."

A May 2019 inquiry in Parliament behaviour found widespread sexual harassment, ranging from unwanted touching to sexual assault - both for males and females.