Federated Farmers is sometimes referred to as the National Party in gumboots.
That has never been the case and nor should it be.
Feds is there to look after the best interests of its members and the organisation couldn’t do that if it was aligned in any way with a political party.
Any doubts over whether the organisation wears blue gumboots should have been dispelled by its actions this week.
The organisation put a very strong submission against the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme
“The ETS is world famous only in New Zealand. As the Wall Street Journal showed with several damning editorials, New Zealand is losing business credibility as investors increasingly look at us with incredulity,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers. . .
“Federated Farmers made it clear to the Select Committee that the ETS should be repealed and replaced by non-punitive policy measures to transition New Zealand to a low-carbon economy.
Feds is equally vehement in its opposition to proposed increases to ACC levies which could result in a 70% increase in farmers’ levies.
“ACC’s bombshell will hurt farmers already struggling to make ends meet,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers ACC spokesperson.
. . . Instead of significantly increasing levies, it is time the Government made some tough decisions. I realise some of those decisions may be politically unpopular, but ACC must be brought under control. . . “
Feds would never protest as strongly if it was tied to National and it provides a more powerful voice for its members because of that.
This is apparently lost on some unions which continue to tie themselves to Labour. As Colin Espiner blogged:
But the conspiracy theory peddled by Labour and the EPMU (i.e. Labour) . . .
And Kiwiblog commented:
I can never work out if Labour is the political arm of the EPMU or if the EPMU is the industrial arm of Labour.
The benefits of independence are also lost to the Service & Food Workers Union. An email sent to Kiwiblog shows merger discussions between the SFWU and Public Service Association ended over differences on political allegiance:
The primary reason for doing so was the inability of both unions to reach sufficient agreement on the issue of political relationships and affiliations. Both unions have long standing and proud traditions on the issue of political relationships.
The SFWU has a long standing affiliation status with the Labour party, is this week signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Green Party and has explored a formal relationship with the Maori Party. The PSA has an equally strong commitment to remaining non affiliated and independent of political parties.
I don’t recall the PSA strongly opposing Labour and its policies but it is free to do so. However, it would be impossible for either the EPMU or SFWU to counter a Labour in the way Federated Farmers does with National and any other parties whose policies are in conflict with the best interests of farmers.
Governments come and governments go. A lobby group which doesn’t commit itself to a party is better placed to deal with all parties whether they are in power or opposition. If it’s allied to a party the interests of members will take second place to the group’s political allegiance.