Every journalist wants to be the one to land that hard-hitting question that delivers the big headlines. Unfortunately for one Kiwi journo, his question will be immortalised for exactly the reasons no one wants to be remembered for.
At a press conference in Auckland, after a diplomatic meeting between Aotearoa New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinta Ardern, and the Finnish PM, Sanna Marin, one enterprising gumshoe took the opportunity to ask what we’ve all been wanting to know:
“Are you two meeting just because, you know, you’re similar in age and, you know, got a lot of, you know, common stuff there? You know, when you got into politics and stuff?”
Boom, nailed her. It was like when David Frost slayed Richard Nixon after Watergate, or that time Jonathan Swan eviscerated Donald Trump with a limp sheet of A4. Truly one for the history books. We expect studios are squabbling over the rights to the biopic right now.
Ardern, ever the slippery interlocutor, responded to the question with a question of her own: “I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were of similar age?”
She then followed up with the slick parley: “We, of course, have a higher proportion of men in politics — it’s reality — because two women meet, it is not simply because of their gender.”
Oof, she’s good. Will no journalist ever be able to expose this tyrant?
Marin also responded to the question with her own quip: “We’re meeting because we are prime ministers,” she said, laughing. “We have a business delegation with us. We have a lot of things in common but also a lot of things where we can do much more together.”
Arden added that, as female leaders, they did have a keen focus on the rights of women in countries where they face “the most basic of human rights being repressed and violated.” She highlighted Iran as an example of this.
What Did Marin and Ardern Talk About If Not Their Gender and Age?
Marin is currently on a tour down under and is set to visit Australia on Friday where she will meet with Anthony Albanese. She landed in Auckland on Tuesday and had a bilateral meeting with Ardern on Wednesday where the two leaders affirmed their strong diplomatic relationship.
As she mentioned, Marin has brought Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Ville Skinnari, and a business delegation with her of Finnish company representatives, including Nokia and Neste.
According to a Finnish government statement, Marin hopes to use the trip to focus on the opportunities offered by new technologies and the digital transformation.”
Energy supply and the green transition, the response to climate change and biodiversity loss, and the international promotion of equality and human rights are other key focuses, as is Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, support for Ukraine, Finland’s future NATO membership, the security situation in the Indo-Pacific, and major power relations.
It appears that’s pretty much what they did discuss, with Ardern stating that “our countries are aligned on incredibly important issues.”
Marin added that, “The new free trade agreement between [the] European Union and New Zealand opens new opportunities also for our cooperation”.
Both leaders condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine which is particularly pressing for Finland, which, as Ardern pointed out, shares a 1,340km border with Russia.
Marin will fly next fly on to Australia where she is due to speak at the Lowy Insitute on lessons learned from the multiple crises she has dealt with, including COVID and Russia.
“I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Marin to Australia on Friday,” Albanese has said.
“Australians and Finns have a mutual appreciation for fostering sustainable growth, investing in clean energy and resilient supply chains and social and political stability.”
Her visit is the first time that a Finnish PM has visited Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand.
Who Is Sanna Marin?
Marin is one of the world’s youngest heads of state, taking office in 2019 at the age of just 34. She became an MP just four years before and head’s the country’s Social Democratic party.
She’s also come under heavy criticism for actions that many have said wouldn’t be issues for male leaders.
In 2020, she was pictured on the cover of Trendi magazine wearing a low-cut blazer with nothing underneath. The backlash resulted in Finnish women sharing similar photos with the hashtag #imwithsanna.
In 2021 she was pictured in a nightclub after meeting with Finland’s Foreign Minister who later tested positive for COVID. She claimed she did not receive the messages about the positive test and later apologised.
Then, in 2022, a video of her dancing with friends in a private apartment was leaked, earning her the nickname ‘the Party PM’. Allegations were made about her drug use and Marin voluntarily submitted to a drug test which proved she hadn’t taken anything. In the same week, Albanese was seen necking a beer to the cheers of a crowd at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney and received praise for his ‘relatable nature’.
Not that it’s a surprise, but this latest incident just goes to show that even at the highest levels of office, women are still held to vastly different standards than men.