New Zealand prime minister, cabinet members take pay cut amid coronavirus pandemic

The global financial crisis brought about by the coronavirus outbreak has affected thousands of New Zealanders. To show their solidarity with Kiwis who’ve endured an economic hit amid this pandemic, the country’s top leaders have elected to take a 20% pay cut over the next six months.

In a news conference Wednesday, Jacinda Ardern announced that she, along with government ministers and public service chief executives, has volunteered to slash their pay by 20% effective immediately. She said that it was important for the government’s highest-paid politicians to show leadership and solidarity with the people working on the front lines and those who have lost their jobs.

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“We acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, taking pay cuts, and losing their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic,” Ardern declared.

She clarified that the salary cut would not influence the government’s overall fiscal policies. The sole intention was for the cabinet to show true leadership amid the greatest threat to human health the world has seen in centuries.

“If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now. I am responsible for the executive branch and this is where we can take action… it is about showing solidarity in New Zealand’s time of need,” she said during the announcement.

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Ardern’s annual salary is $471,049 New Zealand dollars ($281,047), according to NZ’s Remuneration Authority, the body that decides pay amounts for the country’s key officeholders. The move would slash $47,105 New Zealand dollars from her original salary.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ annual pay is $334,734 New Zealand dollars, meaning that there will be a drop of $33,473 New Zealand dollars in his salary.

New Zealand has been receiving praise for the way it is handling the coronavirus outbreak. On March 19, Ardern shut the country’s borders to foreign visitors and announced a four-week lockdown on March 23. Non-essential workers were orders to stay home except for necessary activities, such as grocery shopping.

The government has also paid out $9 billion New Zealand dollars to 1.5 million citizens in wage subsidies to help them survive through a temporary loss of income. The state sees a surge in joblessness in the coming months due to the global financial crisis brought about by the pandemic and domestic shutdowns.

New Zealand lanscape.

“This is where we can take action and that is why we have,” the prime minister said of their decision.

The administration has yet to decide next week if it will be necessary to extend its current “Level 4 “shutdown. The finance minister said that if ever the government eases restrictions, the emphasis will be on permitting safe economic activity.

As of Wednesday, the country has had 1,386 confirmed coronavirus cases and nine deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Watch Jacinda Ardern’s announcement regarding the 20% pay cut in the video below.

Sacrifice is the heart of leadership, and by willingly taking this pay cut, Ardern and the New Zealand cabinet just demonstrated to the world that they’re politicians who genuinely care for their people.