Jacinda Ardern has stunned New Zealanders, announcing she will be taking a 20 per cent cut to her prime ministerial pay cheque for the next six months.
The Kiwi PM said on Wednesday all her cabinet ministers would be doing the same, as well as the top bureaucrats in the country’s government departments.
The surprise announcement came as a further 20 New Zealanders were diagnosed with COVID-19 overnight.
Ardern said the pay cut was an acknowledgment of the economic hit her country was taking as it grappled with the coronavirus pandemic.
“I absolutely accept this is not going to change the government books but for us it’s about leadership,” she said.
“It’s an acknowledgement of the hit many New Zealanders are taking right now.”
The position of New Zealand leader attracts a salary of NZ470,000, so Ardern will effectively be forgoing $47,000 in pay in 2020.
The leader of the opposition, National’s Simon Bridges, responded by announcing he, too, would take a 20 per cent pay cut.
Mandating pay cut
That prompted another MP, leader of the ACT New Zealand party David Seymour, who represents one of the wealthiest electorates in the country, to offer to table legislation mandating a pay cut for the entire parliament.
In total, 1,386 people have contracted the virus in New Zealand.
The country was placed in a level-four lockdown on March 26.
Since then about 1.5 million Kiwis have signed up for the government’s wage subsidy program.
‘This is where we can take action, which is why we have.’
“We feel it deeply, the struggle that many New Zealanders are facing,” Ardern said on Wednesday.
“If there was ever a time to close the gap between different positions, it’s now.
“This is where we can take action, which is why we have.”
On a lighter note, one stir crazy Kiwi in lockdown is amusing herself by posting impersonations of her country’s leader through TikTok.
Comedian Melanie Bracewell said the videos were more of an homage to the PM than a parody, because she thinks Ardern is doing an exemplary job steering New Zealand through the pandemic.
Bracewell’s boredom-induced capers have since gone viral, with the PM herself becoming involved.
After posting a video showing how she uses makeup to create the “Jacinda look”, Bracewell received a message from Ardern on her Instagram page.
“You’ve done my makeup better than I do,” the PM commented.
Courtesy – 7News