ACT concerned by taxpayer-funded research into Jacinda Ardern's Facebook page

The Labour Party is pumping $272m over four years into boosting incomes for low and middle income New Zealanders.

It was the keystone announcement of Jacinda Ardern’s party conference speech, held via Zoom and livestream.

But it's livestreaming of a different sort which could have the Prime Minister in trouble with a taxpayer watchdog.

Labour Party get-togethers have a certain vibe, with Jacinda Ardern part rockstar/part cult leader. COVID computer conferences, on the other hand, are not so vibey. But they have their perks, with the Prime Minister able to wear her AllBirds while speaking from behind a desk.

They still come peppered with policy promises

Labour's boosting the Working for Families tax credit, with $15 more a week for the eldest child - making the payment $128 a week. There's $13 more a week for subsequent children - so $104. Ardern says it means 346,000 families will be better off by an average of $20 a week.

But strip it back and the Government's basically only chipping in $5 more after inflation.

The Prime Minister said it's not for her "to determine how families may wish to spend this increase".

A wee bump, post-baby bump too. The Best Start payment for new parents is going up a fiver - from 60 to $65 a week.

"It's basically a few crumbs they found and thought they better throw out today," says National's Judith Collins. 

The Labour leader’s speech was streamed via Facebook. That's totally fine, but Newshub Nation revealed the popularity of her Facebook Lives are being polled using taxpayer money.

Asked why taxpayers were paying for her Labour-branded Facebook page to be polled, Ardern said: "To be honest, I have no awareness or knowledge of that".

ACT's David Seymour says it's a "blatant misuse of taxpayer money". 

The bulk of the research is around COVID and vaccine messaging but also highlights messages like "such great leadership" and "sooo great to have you as our leader".

"It's not quite corruption, but it's certainly skating right along the edge of it," Seymour says. 

ACT will be complaining to the Auditor General 

"First and foremost, I will absolutely look into it, but as I have just said to you, I have no knowledge of that," Ardern told Newshub Nation.

The Labour conference also voted to change the way it replaces leaders. Labour's general secretary Rob Salmond doesn't think the caucus is agitating for a coup. 

Perhaps just as well, cause Ardern ain't budging.

"I’m not stopping. I need to carry us through, it's my job," Ardern said. 

A job balancing Labour leader and Prime Minister.