Jacinda Ardern delays New Zealand election by four weeks due to coronavirus outbreak

New Zealand's election will now be held on 17 October.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during the Labour Party campaign launch in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, August 8, 2020. New Zealand's parliament has adjourned ahead of the September 19 election. (AAP Image/David Rowland) NO ARCHIVING

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking at the Labour Party campaign launch in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday 8 August. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delayed the New Zealand election until 17 October after an outbreak of COVID-19 in Auckland.

New Zealand was set to go to the polls on 19 September until the country's first community outbreak in 102 days.

However, Ms Ardern has chosen to defer the poll by four weeks, responding to calls from the opposition and her deputy Winston Peters.

"I want to ensure we have a well-run election that gives voters all the information they need ... and delivers certainty for the future," she said in Wellington on Monday morning.

"I do need to provide certainty, a sense of fairness and a sense of comfort to voters to ensure them that this will be a safe election."

New Zealand election delayed to October 17

The Labour leader first announced September 19 as the date for a general election back in January.

However, the surprise return of the virus to Aotearoa on the day before the Parliament was due to be dissolved led to an 11th hour review of the poll date.

The Auckland outbreak has infected 49 people and prompted Ms Ardern to send the country's biggest city into lockdown.

Opposition leader Judith Collins, Mr Peters and one-man party ACT have all campaigned for a delay to the poll.

Ms Collins also says a delay would be both "right and fair", the latter suggesting Ms Ardern is benefiting politically from increased visibility during the outbreak.

Mr Peters, a politically-astute campaigner first elected in 1978, has argued an election in the current environment would suppress turnout and his ability to woo voters.

"Voters need to be able to hear from all political parties about their COVID response and other policies. That is fair," he said.

"But until Auckland's alert level comes down the playing field is hopelessly compromised."

Ms Ardern said Mr Peters did "absolutely not" force her hand, saying she consulted all leaders of parliamentary parties without revealing her view.

"It would be entirely inappropriate for this decision to be based on anything that could be seen as political partisanship," she said.

Ms Ardern's decision means parliament will return on Tuesday and be dissolved on 6 September.

Early voting will begin on 3 October.

Published 17 August 2020 at 8:22am, updated 17 August 2020 at 2:43pm
Source: AAP -SBS