Newstalk Breakfast presenters Ciara Kelly and Shane Coleman have clashed over the legacy of New Zealand’s outgoing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Opening the show this morning, Shane said he is not a fan of Ms Ardern’s ‘woke’, ‘touchy-feely’ style of politics – but praised her for the manner in which she handed in her resignation.
It comes after she announced her resignation last night – saying she ‘no longer has enough in the tank’ to do the job justice.
She will officially leave office on February 7th after five years in power.
“I’m not a fan of Jacinda Ardern,” said Shane. “I’m not a fan of that type of politics.
“It’s too touchy-feely for me. It is too woke. For me, it is the politics of perception, not the politics of reality.
“I’m not sure there is a huge depth there to her politics – look it’s not for me.”
Despite his feelings on her legacy, Shane said she has “done politics some service with the manner of her resignation”.
“It is absolutely right and legitimate for a politician to say, you know what, I am here, I think it is five years in the job, I’ve run out of road, I’ve run out of energy and maybe its time for somebody new to come in and take over,” he said.
“I think we’re going to see more and more politicians coming in, staying there for a short period of time and then moving on – and while it is important to have a reservoir of experience, I like that idea of politicians not staying.
“I mean we were chatting about Eamon De Valera; he was Taoiseach for 20 years and president for 14 years – that is too long; way too long.
“So, I like that idea of politicians saying, you know what, I’ve done my bit, I think I’ve contributed something - and we can agree or disagree on whether that’s the case - but now it is time for somebody new to come in with fresh ideas – I think fair play to her for that.”
In response, Ciara suggested Shane had an ‘unconscious bias’ against Ms Ardern because she is a woman.
“I think both of those things - that fact that you don’t like her, you don’t like her style of politics and the fact that she has stepped down in quite an unusual move for a senior politician and a world leader - are down to the fact that she’s a woman,” she said.
“I don’t think you know or believe or feel you dislike her because she’s a woman […] you have accused her of 'touchy-feelyness', of a lack of depth, of a lack of substance – she is empathetic, she has a different style, [and] it doesn’t resonate with men as clearly as, perhaps, other male politicians do.
“She is different and what’s more, she is less power hungry – that’s why she’s stepping down.”
Ciara said her decision to resign shows why the world needs more female leaders.
“She walked away from power,” she said.
“We all say the same thing about politicians; we say the only thing a politician really wants is to hang on to power and to win an election.
“She has just proven that there are politicians out there that want more than that and I think that’s welcome.”
Shane said it was “outrageous” to accuse him of sexism.
“I have said exactly the same thing about the Canadian prime minister,” he said
“I do not hate Jacinda Ardern. I don’t like her style of politics, nor do I like that style of politics of the Canadian prime minister
“I have a problem with that touchy-feely approach. It has absolutely nothing - stress nothing - to do with her being a woman and I think that’s an unfair thing to say.”