Newshub Leaders Debate: Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins' best one-liners

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins battled it out in a fiery and energetic debate on Wednesday night. 

The National and Labour leader went head-to-head in the Newshub Leaders Debate discussing COVID-19, the economy, climate change and poverty. 

It was their first debate in front of an audience after Auckland moved to alert level 2, and there were some zingers. Here are some of the best one-liners from the debate. 


The debate got off to a heated start when the pair were asked a hypothetical question about when they would open up a Pacific travel bubble. 

In response, Collins said Samoa closed its borders a month before New Zealand, but Ardern interjected saying New Zealand was one of the earliest countries to close its borders. 

The interruption didn't go down well with Collins who shot back, "Ms Ardern, you've had your turn. Manners". 

Neither leader gave a specific date for when they would open a Pacific bubble. They both said they would open a trans-tasman travel bubble around Christmas if it was safe, but they disagreed over what was safe. 

'Deep breath, Judith'

The jabs continued when the topic moved on to housing. The leaders were asked whether they wanted house prices to drop. 

"I don't want them to grow... simple," Ardern answered. "I want them to stabilise so that people can get to the market."

Collins somewhat agreed saying, "In some cases they're going to have to go down". 

But she said they can't drop so much that people have negative equity. 

 "You don't want to have people who have borrowed up to the hilt to buy a house suddenly having negative equity - and that I think is the problem Ms Ardern has." 

The National leader then touted her plans to reform the Resource Management Act (RMA) and used Christchurch as an example.

Ardern replied: "If the RMA was the solution, why did Judith Collins not do it in the nine years that she was in office?"

"We tried to but you wouldn't give us the votes to help us get it," Collins shot back. 

"Deep breath, Judith," Ardern retorted.

'What for, dear?'

During a tense discussion over last year's school climate strikes and declaring a climate emergency in New Zealand, the leaders once again clashed

Ardern said she'd have "no issue" with declaring a climate emergency after it was previously voted down in Parliament last year.

"It is an emergency and everything we've done demonstrates that," Ardern said.

"An emergency in real terms means stopping future offshore oil and gas exploration."

But Collins took issue with stopping oil and gas exploration, claiming "coal use has gone up".

"So now we've got more coal being used instead of natural gas to actually create electricity," she said.

"All the talk, all the fluffing around about emergencies, tell you what, actually, it's got worse not better under this particular leader."

Ardern then asked Collins, "What is your plan?"

"What for, dear?" Collins replied.

"Climate change," Ardern said.

'I'm not into communism'

In a more jovial moment, the leaders revealed that they both eat meat twice a week. 

They were then asked whether Kiwis should also cut back on meat for climate change. While Ardern said for health reasons there is nothing wrong with cutting back, Collins said if you're going to eat meat, eat Kiwi meat every single time.

Collins also said she's not going to tell people how to eat.

"I'm not into communism," she said.

The unusual claim received a smirk from the Prime Minister. 

'I do believe in miracles, but I tell you what he won't be one of them'

Another zinger came when the leaders were asked whether they think NZ First leader Winston Peters is irrelevant. 

Ardern said she wouldn't go that far because they have worked together for three years.

However, Collins was happy to say that Peters is irrelevant. 

"As a Christian I do believe in miracles, but I tell you what he won't be one of them," Collins said.  

NZ First is on 1.5 percent in Newshub's latest poll. 

'He's my asset and her liability' 

Collins was in her element when asked if Labour MP Phil Twyford is a liability. 

"He's my asset and her liability," Collins joked.

Ardern was then asked if National's Paul Goldsmith is a liability.

"Their fiscal plan is the liability," the Prime Minister responded referring to the fact that Goldsmith admitted to using the wrong figures in National's financial plan which resulted in a $4 billion hole. 


A discussion about possible deputy prime ministers provided another chance for a one-liner when Collins strongly endorsed ACT leader David Seymour. 

The National leader said Seymour would make an excellent deputy which seemed to take Ardern by surprise who shot back, "Jeepers".