Ardern ‘happy to roll with the punches’
Fresh off a convincing win in a hurried by-election for Mt Albert, Labour’s Jacinda Ardern is focusing on her new patch.
It helpfully blocks out mounting speculation that Labour leader Andrew Little will have some decisions to make over whether to make her his deputy leader heading into the election.
Ardern pulled in 10,000 votes in Saturday’s election in Auckland, streets ahead of her closest rival Julie Anne Genter on 1489.
In a competition that mostly had the wind taken out of it by National’s decision not to stand a candidate, Ardern pulled a 30 per cent turnout with estimates of a total vote count of 13,715.
Ardern said the leadership speculation was a distraction.
‘‘I haven’t put any thought into it. Perhaps that says something about my ability to multi-task during a by-election.
‘‘I haven’t really paid much attention to it because that’s been happening on and off for a while and it’s not something that - when you’re particularly in the heat of a by-election - you want to get distracted by,’’ she said.
Ardern had felt the pressure of delivering a good result, over the past four week, even though many were treating the outcome of the by-election as a foregone conclusion.
Despite commentary around her potential in the party, Ardern has not been known to fuel suggestions she had designs on a leadership role.
‘‘Of course, I want to be good at my jobs so that I’m in a position to earn a place as a minister - because that’s where you can make the greatest change,’’ she said.
It would be a tough call for Little, who would have to demote respected veteran Annette King as deputy, to install a popular Auckland-based MP.
If he did make the decision in the next few weeks however, Ardern was happy to do ‘‘what- ever’s best for the party’’.
‘‘But that’s been the way I’ve approached most of my roles in the party - that’s nothing different for me.
‘‘For me It’s been about saying whatever’s best, whatever’s needed. First and foremost for me is the importance of just being part of a strong team.’’
Now that she is MP for Mt Albert, Ardern has some targets to achieve in the time between now and the September General Election.
Jacinda Arden, newly elected Labour MP for Mt Albert celebrates at the Point Chevalier