Jacinda Ardern and rivals hot mic spat raises £52,000 for charity

Jacinda Ardern shuts down reporter asking 'similar in age' question

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Jacinda Ardern and opposition leader David Seymour have bounced back from a spat stemming from an unfavourable remark the Kiwi Prime Minister made about her political rival – by using it to raise more than £52,000 for charity. Labour Party leader Ms Ardern was caught on a hot mic referring to Mr Seymour, who leads the libertarian ACT, as an “arrogant p***” during a heated exchange in New Zealand’s Parliament.

However, after patching things up, they opted to make the best of it by both signed an official parliamentary transcript of Ms Ardern’s comment and auctioned it for charity.

The auction closed Thursday with a top bid of just over $100,100 New Zealand dollars.

Ms Ardern posted on Facebook: “Can’t say I expected this. “A faux pas with the old mic in parliament has turned into $100,100 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

“My thanks to David for being a good sport and to everyone who placed a bid.”

After five years as prime minister, Ms Ardern faces a tough election campaign in 2023.

Her liberal Labour Party won reelection two years ago in a landslide of historic proportions, but recent polls have her party lagging its conservative rivals.

Ms Ardern’s comment had come after Seymour, who leads the libertarian ACT party, peppered her with questions about her government’s record for around seven minutes during Parliament’s Question Time, which allows for spirited debate between rival parties.

After sitting down, the 42-year-old, as an aside, uttered the offending words to her deputy.

The insult was barely audible on Parliament TV but were just picked up in the background.

Ms Ardern later sent an apologetic text to Mr Seymour, who said he was “shocked and astonished” at her language, which was out of character.

He said Ms Ardern had said in her text that “as her mom said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”

Mr Seymour then proposed the auction idea to Ms Ardern at an end-of-year party with journalists and she agreed.

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The auction was held on the New Zealand website Trade Me and attracted more than 280 bids. It was billed as “Ardern, Seymour join forces for p****s everywhere.”

Peter Dickens, the chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, said he wanted to thank both politicians for their “classy” reaction. He said the money comes as a huge boost after a hard year during which normal fundraising activities were curtailed by COVID-19.

He said: “We’ve been overjoyed and amazed all the way through the journey of this auction. It’s made more than we ever could have imagined.”

He said the money, equivalent to ten percent of its annual budget, would go to a range of services it offers, including free counselling and support groups.

Dickens said prostate cancer is the nation’s most diagnosed form of cancer and that older men should consider getting a simple blood test to enable early detection, adding: “Just a little p**** could save a life.”

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