Game on Prime Minister!

Sitting in the House on our first day back for 2022, the Prime Minister’s opening speech, made me feel as though I was listening to the Bee Gees classic “It’s Only Words” … on repeat.   

All that came to mind were its lyrics … “It’s only words and words are all I have …”

The self-congratulations of the great job she thinks Labour is doing as the “party for all New Zealanders” was staggering. That theme continued as the next fortnight went by in speeches of her backbench MPs.

 All New Zealanders have not felt as if they belong to the “team of five million” since 2020, when we all locked down in the early stages of COVID-19.

Ask small business owners, especially in tourism and hospitality. Life has been very tough for many people in our community.

As National’s Agriculture spokesperson and MP for a large rural electorate, I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister thanking the farmers in her speech, something I generally only hear from Finance Minister Grant Robertson who knows where the money comes from.

The people in our primary industries are making a huge contribution toward keeping New Zealand’s economy afloat and feeding us, as well as more than 40 million people globally.

The words “working with farmers” were used a number of times throughout the statement.  I’ve kept a copy and will be repeating those words back, whenever I see the ‘Government knows best’ attitude appear, which the usual way they prefer to operate.

Currently there are two big discussions which will affect both our farming and rural communities in general.

He Waka Eke Noa consultations have been extended by a month due to the red traffic light setting. I encourage farmers to engage with those consultations. 

Industry leaders have been working on a plan which is designed to keep farmers out of the Emission Trading Scheme. No other farmers in the world are in the ETS. 

It is important that this is given a decent discussion and while face-to-face is always preferable, there are webinar options available if you’re unable to go.

KPMG’s Net Zero Readiness Index 2021 covering 32 countries was released late last year and puts our agriculture at No 1 for net zero readiness, while New Zealand in general sits at No 9. But it doesn’t mean we do nothing.

The other big discussion is around carbon forestry planting, and I know that this is winding many of you up, seeing good food producing land go under pine trees. A green paper has been prepared to see if solutions can be found without encroaching on private property rights.

Research, genetics and technology development to find better ways of doing things on farm, and in orchards continues.

A National Government will be on the ground, helping food producers achieve regional solutions at local levels, because that’s where the answers lie.

Words don’t fix things Prime Minister; the good people of New Zealand do.