New Zealand’s new leader Ardern promises government for all


WELLINGTON, Oct 26, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – Jacinda Ardern was officially sworn in as New Zealand prime minister on Thursday, pledging to lead a government for all despite her Labour Party falling well short of a majority in last month’s general election.

The 37-year-old was only confirmed as the new leader last week after stitching together a three-way coalition four weeks after the September 23 poll.

Her centre-left party trailed the previously ruling conservative National Party on election night and required the combined support of the populist New Zealand First party and the Greens to confirm a majority government. “I want to put emphasis today on the words ‘your government’,” she told well-wishers outside parliament after taking the oath of office.

“This is a democracy. Of course not everybody voted for us, but we vow, regardless of who you voted for, regardless of where in Aotearoa New Zealand you live, this will be a government for all New Zealanders.”

However, Ardern held off outlining her immediate agenda, saying it would be revealed next week after she took advice on whether it would need to include a mini-budget.

“Some of our 100-day commitments we really need to act urgently on if we are to get the legislation through on time,” she said.

“There are elements of it that could well be wrapped into a mini-budget. We are seeking advice on what is required.”

Among measures earmarked for urgency is a ban on non-residents buying existing houses.

Foreign ownership and a housing shortage in New Zealand’s larger cities were prominent issues in the lead-up to the election which brought an end to nine years of rule by the Nationals.

Ardern campaigned on social issues including housing affordability and improved healthcare and has also listed raising the minimum wage environmental issues, and tackling homelessness and child poverty among her priorities.