Jacinda Ardern 'rejects' notion that anyone else is leader

The AM Show 23/10/2018

The Prime Minister has come out strong against claims her deputy is the one who's running the show on the one year anniversary of her post.

"It's completely and utterly wrong," said Jacinda Ardern, telling The AM Show on Tuesday she's proud of the what her coalition Government has achieved over the past year.

Ms Ardern has been subject to debate over whether she's too "weak" to be prime minister, and that her deputy, NZ First leader Winston Peters, has too much influence.

The idea that anyone other than myself is leader, I reject.

When presented with the idea that Mr Peters is holding the reins, Ms Ardern told The AM Show she would "ask people for the evidence of that".

"We are a coalition Government, and we do work on things via consensus. I do that equally with the Green Party," she said. 

"But the idea that anyone other than myself is leader, I reject, and I actually don't think the majority of people believe that either."

Mr Peters has also brushed off the idea. "Of course she's driving the car. There's only one captain on a boat," he told RNZ, after speculation he was wielding disproportionate power.

It came after Mr Peters refused to answer questions referring to the Government as "Labour-led" from National deputy leader Paula Benner during Question Time. 

"After 25 years of MMP we expect members of Parliament to come here understanding the lexicon and language of MMP," he said last month, after Ms Bennett used the phrase "Labour-led Government".

"It's a coalition between the Labour Party and New Zealand First with support agreement from the Green Party," said Mr Peters.

His influence was also questioned in September after saying in Nauru the Government had "never made a commitment to double the refugee quota", despite Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway saying it would be raised.

The Government later came to an agreement to increase the quota from 1000 to 1500, with the Prime Minister saying it was an issue the Cabinet was "always on track to work through".

Ms Ardern told The AM Show she's confident the Government has "the majority of support of New Zealanders".

Watch the full interview with Jacinda Ardern above.

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