Newly elected party leader quizzed over baby plans just hours into job 3 years ago

Newly elected party leader quizzed over baby plans just hours into job

It started just hours after she was elected.

New Zealand's new Labour Party leader spent her first day on the job answering questions about her plans for parenthood instead of policy.


Jacinta Arden became the party's youngest leader at 37 years old on Tuesday.

And just seven hours after she was elected, she appeared on local TV show The Project - where she was quickly quizzed on her baby plans.

One of the hosts, Jesse Mulligan, asked:

“I’ve got a question, and we’ve been discussing today whether or not I’m allowed to ask it.

“A lot of women in New Zealand feel like they have to make a choice between having babies and having a career or continuing their career . . . so is that a decision you feel you have to make or that you feel you’ve already made?”

She responded:

“I have no problem with you asking me that question, because I have been very open about discussing that dilemma, because I think probably lots of women face it.”


She explained that she didn't feel her "dilemma" was any different from any other woman juggling several priorities and responsibilities.

But the opposition leader noticeably tensed up during her appearance on local talk show The AM Show the following morning when panelist Mark Richardson said employers "need to know that type of thing from the women you are employing".

He asked:

"I think this is a legitimate question for New Zealand, because she could be the prime minister running the country - she has out best interests at heart, so we need to know these things.

“If you are the employer of a company you need to know that type of thing from the woman you are employing … the question is, is it OK for a PM to take maternity leave while in office?”

But Arden said that while she was happy to answer questions about her family plans, since she had been open about it in the past, she drew the line at other women being asked.


Pointing at Richardson, she said:

"For other women, it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace.

"That is unacceptable in 2017. It is a woman's decision about when they choose to have children and should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have got opportunities."