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LIVE UPDATES

Leadership contest begins behind closed doors

It’s Friday, January 20 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

What you need to know

  • Jacinda Ardern has announced her resignation as prime minister. She will leave the role no later than February 7 – and it could be as soon as this coming Sunday.
  • Grant Robertson has ruled out seeking the leadership. The key frontrunners from within Labour remain Chris Hipkins, Michael Wood and Kiri Allan. Read our official/unofficial odds here.
  • The general election will take place on October 14.
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Leadership contest begins behind closed doors

It’s Friday, January 20 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

What you need to know

  • Jacinda Ardern has announced her resignation as prime minister. She will leave the role no later than February 7 – and it could be as soon as this coming Sunday.
  • Grant Robertson has ruled out seeking the leadership. The key frontrunners from within Labour remain Chris Hipkins, Michael Wood and Kiri Allan. Read our official/unofficial odds here.
  • The general election will take place on October 14.
Jan 20 2023

New Zealand’s next prime minister could be announced on Saturday morning

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Nominations for the vacancy of Labour leader, and therefore presumptive prime minister to succeed Jacinda Ardern, close tomorrow morning at 9am. If there is just one nominee, which according to sources is more likely than not, that person will be formally endorsed as leader by caucus on Sunday.

Critically, nominations will require more than 10% of the caucus, which equates to at least seven of 64 MPs, not including the nominee. If there is more than one nomination, caucus will vote at Sunday’s meeting. If there are three or more candidates, they’ll be whittled down to two in rounds. At this point, if one candidate gets the backing of more than two-thirds, or 42 MPs, that individual wins. If not, then it proceeds the the electoral college, which means a vote split 40% caucus, 40% party membership and 20% union affiliates.

The full statement, from Labour chief whip Duncan Webb, who is returning officer for the contest, reads as follows:

“Nominations for the position of Labour Party Leader must be received by 9am on Saturday 21 January. Nominations require support from at least 10% of the caucus which with 64 MPs is seven MPs, not including the nominee. Caucus has agreed to meet on Sunday 22 January at 1pm. If there is only one nominee an endorsement by caucus is required. Members unable to attend in person can vote by proxy.

“If a vote is required the vote will be by exhaustive ballot. That means it will be by rounds and the lowest polling candidate will be removed at the end of each round. This will continue until either one candidate has two thirds of the vote or more, or there are two candidates and neither can secure two thirds of the vote. There are no limits on the number of votes to be taken. Caucus had seven days from the date of resignation to reach a decision. Accordingly Caucus can continue to meet to seek to obtain 66% support for a leader up until that time.”

Read more: Labour’s leadership dilemma

TradeMe puts out the call for new PM

We’ve made it to the end of what turned out to be an extraordinarily busy news week – and it’s not over yet. This Sunday will see Labour’s caucus attempt to elect a new leader (and new prime minister). We’ll have coverage on the day, don’t you worry.

In the meantime, fancy having a crack at the top job? TradeMe’s launched a firmly tongue-in-cheek ad for a new prime minister.

Ideal qualities include experience leading a large team of “roughly 5 million”, an ability to deal with “the odd ‘arrogant prick'” and, quite simply, “an interest in politics”.

Have a good weekend.

Megan Woods out of Labour leadership contest

Minister Megan Woods, photographed in her Beehive office by Michelle Langstone

Megan Woods will not put herself forward to become Labour’s new leader, Stuff has reported.

The senior cabinet minister was a long shot for the role, but had been in the conversation since Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation yesterday.

It’s now likely to come down to ministers Chris Hipkins or Michael Wood, though Kiri Allan remains a possibility. A new leader will most likely be decided on Sunday afternoon.

While Woods won’t be leader, she will be running Labour’s upcoming election campaign.

Minister Megan Woods, photographed in her Beehive office by Michelle Langstone

New poll taken before Ardern resignation shows continued slide for Labour

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A new Taxpayer’s Union Curia poll released just a day after Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation shows a continued decline for the Labour Party. The poll was taken before yesterday’s news.

The governing party has dropped to 31.7%, down 1.4 points. But while National retained a healthy lead – sitting now on 37.2% – it had dropped by 2.2% from the previous poll.

Act was up 0.4 points to 10.8% while the Greens shot up 2.5 points to 10.6%.

The lay of the polling land

 

Clarke Gayford, journalists, among latest to be banned from entering Russia

Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford on their boomerang Antarctica flight (Photo: Pool)

Another 31 New Zealanders, including the fiancé of the outgoing prime minister and a number of journalists, have been banned from entering Russia.

According to a statement from Russia’s foreign ministry, the names were added to the list because of their part in a “Russophobic campaign of the ‘collective West'”.

Clarke Gayford is among those names, alongside Newshub’s European correspondent Lisette Reymer, Today FM host Tova O’Brien, the Herald’s Thomas Coughlan and Stuff owner Sinead Boucher.

Former defence minister Ron Mark, who has spent time on the ground in Ukraine during the conflict, has also been banned from visiting Russia.

Entry into Russia is barred for those on the list for an indefinite period.

Ardern feeling ‘range of emotions’ after decision to quit

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern photographed on June 10, 2022. (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Jacinda Ardern has no regrets over her shock decision to step aside.

The prime minister briefly spoke to media at Hawke’s Bay airport today and, as the Herald reported, said she had slept well last night “for the first time in a long time”.

She added: “But still a range of emotions, I of course feel sad but also I do have a sense of relief.”

Calling for a snap election was never on the table, said Ardern. “Elections are incredibly disruptive. There was no need for one in this case.”

Meanwhile, one of the most likely successors, Chris Hipkins was spotted while on a morning stroll by Newshub. He did not rule out throwing his hat in the ring for the top job, but equally did not confirm his intentions.

“I am really optimistic about the conversations my colleagues are having about making this decision really thoughtfully and constructively and with a good degree of consensus. I think my colleagues are taking the responsibility here very, very seriously,” he said.

“I think if we can reach a consensus and then really unite as a team behind a new leader that’s going to be far better for New Zealand.”

Biden joins chorus of global messages to outgoing Ardern

Joe Biden and Jacinda Ardern pretend to have a meaningful conversation ahead of their meeting at the White House. Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

US president Joe Biden has joined the chorus of international tributes to outgoing prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

In a tweet, Biden thanked Ardern for strengthening the partnership between the United States and Aotearoa.

“Your stewardship in advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific was crucial – I look forward to deepening our nations’ ties for generations to come,” he said.

Ardern visited the White House for a formal meeting with Biden last year.

Helen Clark latest to thank Ardern – but concerned ‘vitriol’ drove her from office

Helen Clark and Jacinda Ardern at the Labour campaign launch in August 2017. Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images

Former prime minister Helen Clark has spoken of the sadness she felt upon learning of Jacinda Ardern’s resignation.

A long time supporter and confidante of Ardern, Clark wrote on Instagram that she was in Europe when she learnt of the news. “Her legacy is very significant, and my overwhelming feeling is one of both sadness and gratitude for all she has done for our country,” she wrote.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Helen Clark (@helenclarknz)


In her first New Zealand interview, Clark told Today FM’s Tova O’Brien that there was a “misogynistic way” that Ardern was attacked while in office. “They were so personalised, I don’t think decent people should be driven out of politics by vitriol and hate,” she said. “I don’t think Jacinda would back away from a fight,” she said.

Clarks final message to Ardern was simply “big hugs” and a thank you for the Covid-19 response.

Helen Clark and Jacinda Ardern at the Labour campaign launch in August 2017. Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images

Luxon, Shaw discuss whether female politicians suffer worse abuse

National Party leader Christopher Luxon (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

There’s one thread that’s filtered through a lot of coverage of Jacinda Ardern’s resignation over the past 24 hours and that has been regarding the level of vitriol and abuse faced by the prime minister during her tenure. The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly exacerbated that, with the protest at parliament last year being a clear example.

Former prime minister Helen Clark said it was clear that “vitriol and hate” had driven Ardern out of politics, telling Today FM: “There has been a misogynistic element in the way that Jacinda has been attacked.”

RNZ has dedicated a lot of its coverage today to dissecting some of that vitriol. Firstly, there’s this piece by Anusha Bradley  looking at the disinformation that’s circled Ardern and the reaction within certain alternative circles to her resignation news.

Questions were also asked of major party leaders regarding the threats and abuse faced by politicians. National’s Christopher Luxon said he believed he, too, was subject to similar abuse to the prime minister. “I know I am – but the reality for me is I choose to handle it in a way where I don’t live on Twitter. I know what’s going on, I know what the feedback is… but for me it’s staying really focused on why I’m doing the job and the task that’s ahead of me,” he said. Politics was a robust environment, said Luxon, and there were people on all sides. “But my identity isn’t tied up in what other people are thinking about.”

Asked whether female politicians suffered worse, Luxon said he wasn’t sure about that. “You’ve seen other countries around the world where you actually get this deep polarisation of political views and you can’t just walk across the room and actually have a conversation with someone who has a different set of politics views and I think that’s a very sad thing for democracy.”

National Party leader Christopher Luxon (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

In contrast, Green Party co-leader James Shaw said that while abuse was not exclusive to the prime minister, it was worse for women. “Female politicians get significantly greater levels of threat than male politicians and also people of colour.”

Shaw acknowledged he had stepped back from social media, despite being a former active Twitter user, due to its unpleasant nature. “I put up a post yesterday acknowledging the prime minister’s leadership. Last time I checked there were something like 85 comments and I blocked all but six of them because it was just vile,” he said. “I think the social media companies need to take some responsibility for that. One of the comments that really did stick with me was someone who had said Jacinda was guilty of genocide, stated as fact. And I’m like… really? Who? What are you basing that comment on?”

While someone like Luxon may not live live his life on Twitter, Shaw said the problem is that a lot of people do. “It’s becoming this sort of cesspit.”

The Bulletin: What happens next?

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It’s hard to imagine the Labour party wanting anything but a very clean transition. They remain the disciplined caucus of the last five and a half years. Given the party’s current polling, a protracted and public battle would not help matters. But a new leader must be found and this is still someone’s opportunity for a shot at the job. A vote will be taken on Sunday and if two thirds of the caucus agree, it’s a done deal. If that doesn’t happen, it will go to the wider party membership.

The Herald’s Audrey Young (paywalled) thinks Grant Robertson should reconsider his decision to not stand as leader. For what it’s worth, Robertson categorically ruled that out a while ago, as detailed in Madeleine Chapman’s 2021 profile for North and South. Failing that, Young thinks Chris Hipkins is the next logical successor.

Unofficial official odds have Hipkins out in front. Kiritapu Allan also is being talked about, perhaps with the support of Labour’s Māori caucus and Michael Wood, mentioned in the past as a potential leader, would have good union support if the vote went beyond caucus and to the wider membership and affiliated organisations.

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Jacinda Ardern resigns: what you need to know

Jacinda Ardern (image design: Toby Morris)

If you’ve somehow woken up, clicked on The Spinoff and realised the prime minister resigned yesterday – here are the top lines from an extraordinary 24 hours in politics.

  • Jacinda Ardern will step down as prime minister in the coming days.
  • A vote for a new Labour Party leader will take place on Sunday within caucus. If that vote proves unsuccessful, it will open up to wider party membership. The process will be wrapped up by February 7 at the latest.
  • Grant Robertson has ruled out seeking the leadership.
  • The key frontrunners from within Labour remain Chris Hipkins, Michael Wood and Kiri Allan. Read our official/unofficial odds here.
  • Reaction to the news has poured in from around the world. Former Labour prime minister Helen Clark paid tribute this morning, thanking Ardern for her service.
  • The general election will take place on October 14.