New Zealand PM focuses on combating Covid-19 in election campaign

Sydney, Australia, Aug 8 (efe-epa).- New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern launched her election campaign on Saturday, with special emphasis on tackling the economic effects of the pandemic.

The Labour Party leader is the favorite in the vote, which is due to take place on 19 September.

Speaking at a massive rally in Auckland, she announced a package of $198 million dedicated to protecting workers and companies most affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.

“Those without formal education, those over 50, disabled people, Maori and Pacifica workers will disproportionately bear the brunt of economic downturns,” she said.

She added: “The intention is to support those New Zealanders most affected by the economic hit of the virus.”

During her speech, the prime minister took stock of her first term in office and devoted a few moments to the terrorist attack on two mosques by a white supremacist in Christchurch in March 2019, in which 51 people were shot dead.

“Much has been said about that afternoon, the terror that was raining down on our Muslim community and what it represented for us as a nation, it will forever be etched into our collective memories but so too will the response,” she said.

Surveys indicate that Ardern, 39, retains enormous popularity, which has been reinforced during her first term in office after several crises such as the bombing, White Island volcano eruption and the pandemic.

Her government has also been criticized for failing to address issues such as inequality among the population and controlling housing prices.

The prime minister, who took office in October 2017 and governs in a coalition with New Zealand First and Green parties, has led one of the most successful efforts against Covid-19.

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