13 Dec 2022

Ardern apologises after calling Seymour 'arrogant prick' in Parliament

5:57 pm on 13 December 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has apologised to ACT Leader David Seymour for calling him an "arrogant prick" during question time this afternoon.

Ardern made the comment under her breath after a wide-ranging question from Seymour covering hate speech, inflation, immigration and education.

"Can the prime minister give an example of her making a mistake, apologising for it properly, and fixing it?" he asked in his final supplementary question.

"There's been a number of occasions where we acknowledge that we will not have perfect responses," she responded.

"We've openly said that, for instance, managed isolation and quarantine was something that was very difficult at the time and that there were people affected by it and that we would do things differently if we were ever confronted with that again ... but I stand by the work that we've done as a government over this last year and over this past term.

"We've always made decisions that we believe to be in the best interests of New Zealand at the time."

As she sat again and the Speaker announced the next question, Ardern could be heard saying "he's such an arrogant prick".

David Seymour

David Seymour Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Speaking to reporters on the black and while tiles afterwards, Seymour said she had texted him soon after to say sorry, it was not something she should have said, and went against her mother's advice.

"She said 'as my mum would say, if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it'. I agree with the sentiment and it's all good as far as I'm concerned," he said.

He said he thanked her for the apology and wished her a merry Christmas.

"I've been called much worse and it's all good, it's all water off a duck's back."

Perplexed ministers exiting the debating chamber were asked whether it was appropriate language in Parliament; most had not heard the comment and - once informed it had come from Ardern - were quick to exercise some diplomacy.

Kiri Allan said she had been unaware: "Oh is that right? I'm sure she wouldn't have said that."

She welcomed Ardern's apology.

"That's good that we remain collegial despite our feelings for each other in heated moments."

Michael Wood concluded that "if the prime minister has apologised then that's, ah, that's an appropriate thing to do".

Chris Hipkins said something similar, and asked whether Seymour was, in fact, an arrogant prick: "Aaah ... pass".

Kelvin Davis was not so worried about the comment: "A lot of things get said in the House and I'm sure a lot worse by them, so I don't think they should be pointing fingers.

Damien O'Connor said "arrogant prick" might be appropriate language to describe some politicians.