In a Colmar Brunton poll released an hour before the debate, Labor polled 15 points ahead of the national opposition party, with Ardern as preferred prime minister.
The poll also showed the Green Party was at 8%, meaning it would be able to form a coalition government with Labor and nominate one of its own MPs for Deputy Prime Minister – James Shaw or Marama Davidson.
Collins has had a rough week on the campaign trail and has drawn criticism for controversial comments, including saying obese people should take more responsibility for their weight.
In contrast, Ardern drew worshiping crowds. Asked by moderator Jessica Mutch-McKay if her government had been ‘transformational’, Ardern said yes, but she needed more time to shake up the status quo and fix decades of housing neglect, transport and the environment.
In a lengthy discussion, Ardern and Collins said they would commit to halving child poverty by 2030. New Zealand has one of the worst rates of child poverty and child mortality in the world. the developed world.
Ardern said his government had made gains from entrenched poverty by increasing benefits for the poor, expanding its school lunch programs and increasing the minimum wage.
When asked what set them apart as leaders, Collins and Ardern gave markedly different answers.
Ardern replied: “We exercise this profession by privilege and not by right. I never take this job for granted; you can always be assured that I will give my all for me.
Collins cited her 20 years as a lawyer, her business acumen and her experience running companies.
Collins accused the Ardern government of repeatedly breaking promises made to voters, including promises to reduce child poverty and build 100,000 affordable homes.
This claim angered Ardern, who said she was not a liar and objected to being labeled a, criticizing Collins for causing “mischief” and spreading “misinformation.”
The Green Party has said it will insist on a wealth tax with anyone who forms a coalition. The two leaders, however, ruled out accepting a wealth tax.
On the climate emergency, Ardern said the issue should be presented as “an opportunity” rather than a crisis. Collins, however, said farmers were scapegoats and blamed for the degradation of the climate when other, larger nations should take more responsibility.
Mutch-McKay said it was unusual to have an election with two women leaders, and Ardern said it was important that the parliament was representative of New Zealand, including Maori, women and Pasifika .Collins said that while she wanted women to take leadership positions, she believed people should be promoted on merit.
When asked if they had something to say to each other, Ardern thanked Collins for his “heartfelt and heartfelt” speech after the Christchurch Mosque shooting in March last year and his action on the control of fire arms.
Collins thanked Ardern for giving “her heart and soul” to the post of prime minister, and said she knew the effort, time and track record it could take. Collins admitted that while she enjoyed the campaign trail, she missed having dinner with her husband and son.
Ardern said whether or not she stayed in politics after the election, she wanted to reform politics to stop the smudges and elitism.
Political commentators say Ardern’s competent handling of the Covid-19 crisis has earned him the confidence of New Zealanders, many of whom do not want a change of direction with so much uncertainty already brought by the pandemic.
New Zealand operates under the mixed member proportional electoral system, which is designed to install coalition governments. But for the first time since the system was introduced in 1996, Labor could make the numbers rule alone on Saturday.