A large majority of people agree that Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway should have lost his job for having an affair with a woman who had worked for one of his Government departments.
In the first of the NZ Herald Kantar Vote 2020 polls, a total of 71 per cent of voters said it was fair for Ardern to dismiss Lees-Galloway over the affair, while 19 per cent said it was unfair because it was a consensual private relationship.
Of the 71 per cent who said it was fair, 51 per cent said it was because he should have been setting an example as Workplace Relations Minister.
That was the reason Ardern had given for sacking him.
A further 20 per cent said it was fair because he was in a position of power over the woman.
Lees-Galloway was dismissed by Ardern a fortnight ago for having an affair with a woman who had worked for one of the Government departments he was responsible for. He also decided not to stand for re-election.
Ardern said she was dismissing him because of his role as minister of Workplace Relations, rather than simply because of the affair itself.
Lees-Galloway said he had said everything he wanted about the matter in his valedictory speech on Tuesday.
In that, Lees-Galloway took full accountability for his actions, saying they had not met expectations people should have for anyone in a position of power.
"As Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety and as a leader in my office, it was not appropriate to have a private relationship with a staff member in a department that reported to me and who worked directly with my office.
"We must recognise not only the imbalance of power involved but also the impact such a relationship can have on a workplace. That's why I have to go. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn't been paying attention. Just because it was tolerated in the past doesn't mean it ought to be in 2020."
He also apologised to his family for the trauma and humiliation it wrought.
The online survey of 1000 eligible voters was taken from July 29 to August 3 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent.
The issue sparked some debate about the standards of behaviour expected of MPs, the scrutiny of them and whether it was fair for an MP to lose their career for a consensual relationship.
Ardern was alerted to the affair after someone informed National Party leader Judith Collins in the days after Collins had dealt with former National MP Andrew Falloon for allegations he had sent sexual images to young women.
Collins referred that person to Ardern's office – and then told the media she had referred an issue about a Labour minister to Ardern. She later said she would not have sacked him for it.
Yesterday, former National Party minister Steven Joyce said on Newstalk ZB he was concerned such behaviour was being "weaponised".
"I think some of it has crossed the line because everyone is human," said Joyce.
"Nobody is perfect and there are aspects of everybody's lives that they're not proud of. I would just say to the people that bring these things up is, 'let's just take a breath'."
Ardern has also asked Ministerial Services to ensure Lees-Galloway did not wrongly use his ministerial position or any funding inappropriately.
In January this year, the woman, who now lives overseas, had met up with Lees-Galloway while he was in Paris for ministerial business.
Ardern said a preliminary report had found no wrongdoing, but she would wait for the final report.