NZ Election 2020: Jacinda Ardern still refuses to reveal cannabis vote, Judith Collins won't commit to banning gay conversion therapy

The Labour and National leaders have once again faced off in a debate, with Jacinda Ardern still refusing to reveal her position on cannabis and Judith Collins not committing to banning conversion therapy.

The Press' election debate was held in Christchurch on Tuesday night, featuring Ardern and Collins in front of a large, loud audience, answering questions on everything from COVID-19 to the price of a Netflix subscription.

The event also included questions from the audience.

Just a day after the Labour Party announced it would ban conversion therapy - the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation - the National leader was asked if she would do the same.

"I don't know why anyone would want to do conversion therapy. You are who you are, isn't it?" Collins answered, to cheers from the audience but pushback from moderator Kamala Hayman, who said the question was whether Collins would ban it.

"It's pretty hard to actually define it. My advice to any parents who are worried about their kids, because it is clearly parents who are organising this, is actually just be grateful your kids are alive.

"I would tell people don't do that to their kids. I don't know what is meant when you talk about the detail, but I happy to say to any parent, just be grateful for your child."

Following the debate, when speaking to reporters, Collins again wouldn't commit to a ban.

"I'd have to know more about what actually goes on. It seems to me that anybody who holds someone against their will is breaking the law anyway, so I don't understand why anyone would want to do conversion therapy," she said.

However, she did say she would like to know more about it and would research the practice. 

On Monday, Labour's rainbow spokesperson Tāmati Coffey said more needed to be done to "keep moving towards a more inclusive New Zealand".

"We will pass a law to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is based on the misguided idea that people are wrong or broken because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is fundamentally wrong.

"Conversion therapy has been linked to severe adverse mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation."

The Green Party has long had a policy to ban gay conversion therapy. 

The first question for Ardern from the audience was about the proposed cannabis reform Bill. At the election, Kiwis will be asked if they support legislation to legalise the recreational use of cannabis and put controls in place to limit harm.

It's a question Ardern has been faced with many times before, but has refused to give a clear answer on. She's previously said she wants the public to make the decision, but whatever the outcome, she will implement it if re-elected.

"I support every single one of the people in this room having their say. Whatever you decide, I will implement," Ardern said. Collins heckled her to answer the question. 

Hayman said the audience may want to see some leadership from Ardern on the issue.

"Leadership is making sure... not every issue has to be influenced by a political agenda. Every single vote in this room counts as much as mine," she said to applause.

Ardern said she hasn't heard from Collins whether the National Party leader will follow through on whatever the referendum's outcome is if she becomes Prime Minister.

At one point the two leaders fiercely questioned each other, with Collins urging Ardern to reveal her position and the Labour leader calling for her opponent to say if she would implement the decision.

Last Wednesday at the Newshub Leaders' debate, Ardern revealed she would make her position clear after the election. She also told Kiwis for the first time that she did smoke cannabis "a long time ago". 

Collins has voted no in the referendum and hasn't smoked cannabis. 

A new UMR poll on Tuesday found that 49 percent of people support the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, 45 percent saying they don't. Four percent don't know and 2 percent won't vote. 

But a Newshub-Reid Research poll released last week gave the edge to the 'no' camp, with 50.5 percent of respondents not supporting the Bill.

Both party leaders voted over the weekend. Preliminary referendum results will be revealed on October 30.