Jacinda Ardern showed people 'how to be kind and strong', Anthony Albanese says

  • 20/01/2023

Outgoing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shown people around the globe how to be tough and compassionate, according to Australia's Anthony Albanese.

The left-leaning Australia Prime Minister has penned a column for The Sydney Morning Herald published on Friday, titled: Ardern showed the world how to be kind and strong.

While discussing the fact Ardern "reminded us all that kindness and strength are not mutually exclusive", Albanese said she showed "a true leader possesses both".

Albanese argued, in his piece for The SMH, Ardern was "a fierce advocate for New Zealand and a great friend to Australia".

"She has been an inspiration to so many and, on a personal level, a friend to me," Albanese wrote.

Ardern gained international plaudits for her leadership after the Christchurch mosque attacks and during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New Zealand's globally heralded response to the first COVID-19 waves led her Labour Party to a historic majority election victory in 2020. 

Since then, however, she had been criticised over the Government's handling of the chaotic anti-mandate protest at Parliament last year, being slower to reopen New Zealand's borders than many other countries and the mounting cost of living and crime crises.

By the end of last year, National had chipped away at Labour's pandemic popularity. Taxpayers' Union-Curia polling released on Friday found Labour had suffered a drop of one point to 32 percent. 

The same poll showed National at 37 percent. The poll was carried out before Ardern's resignation.

That was largely in line with a Newshub-Reid Research poll in November, where Labour recorded its lowest result since Ardern became the leader in 2017 (32.3 percent versus National's 40 percent). 

Ardern, in her resignation speech on Thursday, admitted it had been a tough five and a half years as Prime Minister and she was only human.

"I had hoped to find a way to prepare for not just another year but another term - because that is what this year requires," Ardern told reporters. "I have not been able to do that."

She believed the time was right for her to step aside.

"I know there will be much discussion in the aftermath of this decision as to what the so-called 'real' reason was," she said. "The only interesting angle you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges… I am human."