PM refuses to say how she'll vote in cannabis referendum

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern won't reveal how she would vote in the upcoming referendum to legalise cannabis for recreational use.

Ardern is in Whanganui today to press her party's case to earn the right to continue governing New Zealand. She believed Labour could take back the electorate and it would be a hotly contested race come September 19.

Asked about the referendum to legalise cannabis and how she'd vote, Ardern said her vote was a good as her neighbour's vote. Her focus was to ensure the Government was facilitating the referendum. She would not reveal her views when pressed on the issue by reporters.

Ardern was visiting a factory that made masks for health workers and she acknowledged the efforts of the team before speaking to reporters.

Asked how a majority Labour Government's Covid response would differ from the Coalition Government's response, Ardern said she wanted the country to sustain the strategy of keeping coronavirus out.

rime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's "angry" at The Warehouse Group for axing 1000 jobs. Photo...
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Getty Images

Ardern said it made sense for New Zealanders to have masks on hand in case of a move to alert level 2. The Labour leader had her own set of masks ready if required.

The Labour Party would release policy not specifically focused on Covid but most would relate to it because the response to coronavirus would help determine the country's future, she said.

On light rail, Ardern said Labour had always supported that light rail in Auckland but that it wasn't a policy backed by all parts of the Government.

Asked about National's law and order policy announced today, Ardern said the Government had invested in frontline officers and that funding fell at a time when Judith Collins was Police Minister.

She visited the Sarjeant Gallery this morning, which is getting $12 million from the Government's $3 billion Covid recovery infrastructure fund for earthquake strengthening and the safe storage of taonga.

This is on top of $12m announced in September 2019 from the Provincial Growth Fund for the construction of a new wing for the heritage building.

The cost to restore the building has increased from earlier estimates, due in part to work having to be completed sequentially, rather than concurrently as originally estimated.

Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall, who has run unsuccessfully for the Whanganui seat as the Labour candidate, met her at the gallery.

Labour candidates Steph Lewis and Adrian Rurawhe joined them on a walk along the main street to a pop-up Labour electorate office.

In a Facebook live video this morning, Ardern said the Sargent gallery restoration was also about increasing tourism, and Whanganui had seen an increase in domestic tourists compared to last year.

Ardern then visited Quality Safety International, which has been making face masks at a rapid rate to meet spiking demand during the Covid crisis.

The Government has asked New Zealanders to add a face mask to their home emergency kits, and using them will be encouraged if the alert level is raised to from 1 to 2.

This new advice, along with director general of health Ashley Bloomfield's comments last week that community transmission will inevitably re-emerge, has prompted questions from the National Party - given that it's been more than 100 days since there was a case of community transmission.

"It doesn't add up," National's deputy leader Gerry Brownlee said last week.

"Why announce this now when there are few cases? What do these guys know that they are not telling us?"

Health Minister Chris Hipkins dismissed any claim that the Government was scaremongering.

"We're the envy of much of the world and we enjoy freedoms that so many others don't. But it isn't scaremongering to say that could all change and it could all change very quickly."

Ardern has said this is a Covid-19 election, but Labour will still be releasing policy so voters will know what the party plans to do if it is voted in for another term.


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