Wednesday 20 March 2019

Breastfeeding prime minister defends spending €45,000 on flight

Jacinda Ardern, daughter Neve, and partner Clarke Gayford. AP Photo
Jacinda Ardern, daughter Neve, and partner Clarke Gayford. AP Photo

Jonathan Pearlman in Sydney

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been forced to defend her decision to take a €45,000 flight to a meeting to reduce time away from her 11-week-old baby.

Ms Ardern, who is still breastfeeding her daughter Neve, decided to fly on the New Zealand air force's Boeing 757 to attend the three-day Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru for just one day.

She chose not to travel out for the full summit with her deputy Winston Peters, meaning the plane had to make a separate journey just for her.

Ms Ardern said she was unable to travel with Neve because her daughter is too young for the necessary vaccinations, and so the expense was necessary to "fulfil my obligations as prime minister".

"If I didn't go, I imagine there would have been equal criticism… Damned if I did and damned if I didn't," she said.

Ms Ardern was accused of being wasteful by some commentators.

"I'm loath to criticise a parent for wanting to be with their newborn," said Duncan Garner, a presenter on New Zealand radio Newshub. "Been there, done that, understand it totally. But just pull out of the meeting."

The row came just days after Ms Ardern was accused of misleading the public over the resignation of her communications minister for using a private email account to conduct government business.

Ms Ardern said in a radio interview that she would not fire the minister and did not want a situation where people would lose their job for showing 'human frailty'.

But she failed to reveal she had already accepted the minister's resignation over her behaviour.

Irish Independent

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