NZ Election 2020: New Zealand lucky to have two competent politicians vying to be Prime Minister - political commentator

A political pundit believes New Zealand is lucky to have two highly competent politicians as options for the next Prime Minister.

National and Labour's Judith Collins and Jacinda Ardern went head to head at the Newshub Leaders Debate on Wednesday night, with much of it revolving around leadership decisions they may need to make if elected Prime Minister.

At the end of the debate, neither were willing to declare themselves the winner. Associate Professor Grant Duncan, a political commentator from Massey University, believes both leaders fared well.

"I think they both look amazing - I think we're really lucky in New Zealand, in the last two elections, we've had debates between two really great people; last time it was Jacinda and [former Prime Minister] Bill [English] and this time it's Jacinda and Judith.  

"Judith Collins seems to thrive and flourish in this kind of format and Jacinda comes from a difficult place because, as Prime Minister, she's been responsible for some of the most difficult times that New Zealand has had to go through," Duncan told Newshub, adding Ardern did well at defending her Government.

During the debate, both leaders agreed they would be open to a four-year term in Government. Duncan said it could come in for the next election.

Jacinda Ardern, left, and Judith Collins.
Jacinda Ardern, left, and Judith Collins. Photo credit: Getty

"Between them, they have a majority in the House - they could pass legislation to extend the Parliamentary term, if they wanted, without a referendum."

When probed on the cannabis referendum, Ardern admitted trying it when she was younger, while Collins said she hasn't tried and will vote against legalisation. Ardern, however, wouldn't say which way she intends to vote.

Collins said she didn't believe Ardern didn't have the right to stay silent on the matter, but Duncan said Ardern's under no obligation to tell the public which way she will swing.

"She should be left alone to make the decision; not only about how she votes but as to whether she tells us what her vote's going to be.

"When she's in that ballot box casting her vote she's a private citizen."

Ardern told debate host Patrick Gower on Wednesday night she would reveal which way she voted after the election.

"I want the public to decide and I want them to have faith that whatever they decide, I'll implement," Ardern said. "I am not clear if that will be the case under Judith Collins."