"Regardless of the smiling faces on the front, it's what happens on the inside that really matters."

Those are the words of Jacinda Ardern who slashed Opposition leader Simon Bridges with an age-old adage after he tried to ruffle her feathers about the Budget cover.

Earlier the Herald revealed the woman on the cover of the Wellbeing Budget had moved to Australia after not being able to afford to live in New Zealand.

Vicky Freeman said she got the shock of her life when a friend messaged her two days ago saying there was "a guy" holding her photo on the news.


The guy was Finance Minister Grant Robertson, posing with copies of the Budget as they came off the printing press.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to smear the Government's 2019 Budget, National leader Bridges pointed out the blunder in Parliament.

Holding up a copy of the Budget, Bridges pointed to Freeman on the cover and yelled, "She's moved to Australia!"

"That tells you all you need to know about this Budget, it's glossy pics; it's spin."

However, not to be outdone, the Prime Minister hit back at Bridges with a simple message about the Budget and some extra sass.

"It's somewhat similar, probably, to the Opposition Caucus room, regardless of the smiling faces on the front, it's what happens on the inside that really matters," she said.

National Party leader Simon Bridges. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National Party leader Simon Bridges. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Elsewhere, Freeman, who features on the Wellbeing Budget with her 9-year-old daughter Ruby-Jean, said she moved to Auckland at the start of 2018 to pursue her dream.

While they both got good work - featuring on Shortland Street, Jono and Ben and advertisements including Harvey Norman - she couldn't afford the financial sacrifice, a brutal realisation after discovering she was paying her 15-year-old babysitter more than she was earning.


She admitted she had given up on New Zealand.

"Honestly, I'm a single mum, so that photo is true, it's just me and my girl, that's us.

Freeman said she messaged Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Instagram earlier today because she was curious as to why officials had selected that particular photo.

"I actually messaged Jacinda this morning ... said 'Great cover, do you mind if I ask why you chose that photo'.

"She'll be busy but I'm sure she'll get a hold of me, because that's my photo. I'm stoked though, like totally coming from a good place."

Freeman said the high cost of living in Auckland was a major factor in moving overseas.

"We moved to Auckland to do the TV thing but I couldn't pay the rent ... sometimes I would have to hire a sitter to look after my girl while I went and did some TV work and I was paying the sitter more than I was coming home with because I was passionate.

"I didn't do it a lot because it made me feel kinda stupid, paying a 15-year-old sitter more than what a single mum is making. It was crazy."

Freeman said she was paying $500 a week in rent but was short about $200 each week - and she still had to feed them both.

"I just said to my daughter I can't do another year here .. the TV stuff was going well, it was good but not great pay. When you're just an extra or featured. It was hard and my daughter was like 'yeah mum, just tell me when and I'll pack my bags'.

"She didn't really enjoy school in Auckland either, she had a grumpy teacher."

The pair left for Australia in December.

As for politics, Freeman said she wasn't political at all - and said if she had to choose she'd vote for the Greens.

Robertson's office said the image on the Budget cover was a stock photograph purchased by the Treasury.