18 Sep 2018

PM forced to backtrack about 'hint' over unreleased GDP numbers

6:12 pm on 18 September 2018

The National Party is questioning the Prime Minister's financial nous after she misspoke in an interview about economic growth figures.

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Jacinda Ardern clarified that she had been talking about the Crown financial statements. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Jacinda Ardern had to swiftly backtrack after telling NewstalkZB's Mike Hosking this morning she had received "a hint" about the soon-to-be-released GDP numbers.

"I'm pretty pleased," Ms Ardern said.

She later told reporters she had been talking about the Crown financial statements, but acknowledged that was not clear.

"I accept I was talking about one thing," she said. "He was talking about another."

The GDP numbers are kept under strict embargo until Statistics New Zealand releases them on Thursday morning.

National leader Simon Bridges zeroed in on the mistake in Parliament this afternoon.

"Does she know the difference between GDP and Crown financial statements?" he asked the Prime Minister.

Ms Ardern responded with a curt "yes".

"Did she know at 8am?" Mr Bridges bit back.

"Yes," Ms Ardern replied. "Next question."

The National leader also asked whether Ms Ardern made the error because she was distracted by "managing coalition differences".

Ms Ardern rejected that: "It's not the first time that Mike Hosking and I have not listened to each other."

National's finance spokesperson Amy Adams then picked up the questions, directing them at Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

"Does the minister consider it part of his job as the Minister of Finance to make sure the Prime Minister knows the difference between GDP and core Crown accounts?"

Mr Robertson said both he and Ms Ardern "certainly" knew the difference.

"Everybody makes mistakes," he said.

The NZ dollar gained a quarter of a cent off the back of Ms Ardern's comments, but was then quickly knocked back by international news.

Interview transcript

MH: The GDP numbers on Thursday, have you seen them or got a hint?

JA: Sorry, the? Sorry, the?

MH: GDP numbers.

JA: GDP numbers.

MH: Thursday.

JA: Uh, we'll be - we'll be putting out the audited and final results soon.

MH: So, you have seen them?

JA: I get a hint, yes.

MH: Are they good?

JA: I'm pretty pleased.