Jacinda Ardern pokes fun at 'unfocused Opposition' after Judith Collins fires off questions on horde of topics

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has poked fun at the "fairly unfocused Opposition" after Judith Collins fired off questions on a horde of topics in Parliament. 

Collins used Question Time on Tuesday to pepper the Prime Minister with questions on all sorts of issues, from children living in emergency motels, to hate speech law, the He Puapua report, the Human Rights Commissioner's gang donation, and journalism funding

As Collins switched up topics again, this time probing the requirement of some Government agencies to award a small fraction of their contracts to Māori businesses, Ardern suggested a lack of Opposition strategy.

"I would say that the current Opposition doesn't know which issue they think is most important to them right now, based on this line of questioning at Question Time."

Collins diverted to another topic, utes, after Ardern suggested last month that some ute buyers weren't using them for "legitimate" purposes amid debate over the electric car incentive scheme.

"What is her definition of the legitimate use of a ute?" Collins asked, to which Ardern replied: "We have not set out anything that requires there to be a definition."

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who last week savaged National during a tongue-in-cheek retelling of the late-night caucus meeting that led to Todd Muller's resignation, didn't miss the opportunity to have another dig. 

"In light of the previous questions of the leader of the Opposition, does the Prime Minister have any views on what might happen in the next couple of weeks in New Zealand, or anything like that?"

The House erupted in laughter. 

Ardern responded: "All I can say is, clearly the caucus discussions in the Opposition have been fairly unfocused of late."

Ardern did come under fire, however, for her response to being asked when the number of children living in motels will reduce back to, and lower than, the 2017 levels that were around a third of what's happening today. 

It comes after The AM Show revealed that at the end of March there were 4368 children living in emergency accommodation, up from 3795 in June last year. That's despite the total number of households dropping from 4086 to 3987 in that same timeframe.

Kids are staying in emergency accommodation longer too. The number staying there for more than a year has increased from 96 in June 2020 to 177 in March. 

"Children were in cars!" Ardern said in defence of the numbers. "I do not want children living for long periods of time in motels, but I absolutely do not want children living in cars. Our goal is to move them out of temporary situations."

National MP Nicola Willis took issue with the response. 

"The Prime Minister just claimed in question time that the 4000 children being raised in motels were previously living in cars," she wrote on Twitter. "This is a farcical claim."

Ardern blamed the previous National-led Government for selling off state houses, leaving her Government to fill in the gaps. 

"The stark reality is when you come into office having inherited an environment where a Government not only didn't grow public housing, they sold it, and we are still dealing with the consequences of that."