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18 Apr

NZ PM plays anti-Trump at United Nations

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Rejecting isolationism and protectionism in favour of kindness and collectivism, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s key speech to the United Nations lived up to the “anti-Trump” nickname she was once given.
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Ms Ardern – who made waves this week by bringing infant daughter Neve into the UN chambers – didn’t name the US or its president during her nation’s address on Thursday, but nonetheless played counterpoint.

“In the face of isolationism, protectionism, racism – the simple concept of looking outwardly and beyond ourselves, of kindness and collectivism, might just be as good a starting point as any,” Ms Ardern said.

“We must demonstrate that collective international action not only works, but that it is in all of our best interests.”

In a speech focusing heavily on climate change in the Pacific, generational change and equality, Ms Ardern also made a plea for international cooperation on social issues.

“I for one will never celebrate the gains we have made for women domestically, while internationally other women and girls experience a lack of the most basic opportunities and dignity,” she said.

“Me Too must become We Too.”

The line received applause.

The statement was in stark contrast to US President Donald Trump’s, which – along with drawing laughter from other world leaders – stated: “We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the doctrine of patriotism.”

However, afterwards Ms Ardern told New Zealand reporters the speech had been written before the general assembly and was not intended to hit at Washington.

“We have held those values long before I was around. It’s not new,” she said.

Ms Ardern, the 38-year-old leader of New Zealand’s centre-left Labour Party, in June became only the second female world leader to have a baby while in office.

But while Vogue magazine this year described her as “the anti-Trump”, she has avoided directly criticising the US president during her year in office, in line with her generally positive political style.

Ms Ardern met briefly with the president while in New York and says he congratulated her on her daughter, while she raised the issue of aluminium and steel tariffs being applied on her country.

During an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, she reiterated she wasn’t among those who laughed during Mr Trump’s speech, commenting she had just “observed”.

A heavily export-dependent nation, New Zealand’s leaders have for decades advocated for multilateralism and open trade.

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