Has Groundswell become the Prime Minister’s Voldemort?:
Organised by lobby group Groundswell NZ, the Howl of a Protest against the government’s environmental regulations — including the “ute tax” — saw convoys of tractors, trucks and utes rumble through main streets from Kaitaia to Invercargill.
The fact the protesters were well behaved and the protests had such a huge turnout made it impossible to dismiss them as the actions of a small number of radicals or perennially disaffected farmers. It was a big swathe of grassroots New Zealand on the move.
A very subdued Ardern spoke directly to voters on Friday evening on her Facebook page. She opened by euphemistically referring to the day’s protests as “activity around the country that broadly relates to our farming community and our primary sector”.
Tens of thousands of people protesting in more than 50 towns and cities is activity? That’s shades of Harry Potter and Voldemort, or he who must not be named.
Defending her government policies, she asserted that “We can’t stand still” in implementing commitments to climate change and freshwater because our trading partners demand it of us. Of course, farmers are not asking to “stand still” but rather believe that the changes are happening too quickly and they are not being adequately consulted. . .
She said she’d listen but she’s not hearing what’s being said: that the answer to the problems must be practical and should follow models that are already working with farmers and councils working together.
Will she hear what Alice Sanders is saying:
Hey Jacinda Ardern,
I think it’s time to chat.
You see I’ve done a lot of thinking the last few days (moving breaks and pushing sheep up will do that to you). I thought a lot about the farmers at the Groundswell NZ protests (which we couldn’t attend, funny how you tax the people who can’t leave work for the protests isn’t it), I thought a lot about my life and upbringing and I thought a lot about you.
I wondered what your upbringing was like, I wondered if you’d ever spent time on a farm before you were in politics, before anyone knew who you were and it was a photo opp.
My upbringing was great, a real kiwi farming life, we didn’t have heaps but we had everything we needed and we were very loved. But I wondered if you watched your dad come home soaking wet, well after dark, exhausted night after night with his head in his hands after a weather event caused havoc on farm and animals?
Yet he still had the time to give you a cuddle, kiss you and tuck you and your siblings in at night. Do you watch your dad now in his 60’s sitting again with his head in hands as yet another raft of regulations are announced.
Regulations that will cost more and more or even worse in the case of the Crown Pastoral Lease bill could let you take our well loved, well managed land off us if you so desire. None of these regulations have an off set that means there will be further income to fund them, this is to be done with whatever money (if any) in the farming budget.
Do you wonder what the chain of these regulations is? Instead of retirement farmers now have to keep going. Those who have managers have to lift their expectations of those managers who then have to lift the expectations of their staff. This is causing stress beyond anything you could expect any person to endure.
Don’t forget a farmer never leaves the “office” they close the curtains and open them everyday and they are there. What do you think happens when this stress stacks up? You know of course, what happens to families, what happens to relationships, what happens to people. Divorce, domestic violence, suicide happens, all the time!
Let’s ignore that for a minute though (how you can I don’t know, neither does Mike King).
So regulations cost money and don’t make any, how do we free up the money in the farming system? Not lose animal health costs we never would do that.
Lose a labour unit, so instead of Dad coming in at 8 in the dark, it’s 10 in the dark and 6 in the morning start time And what happens to that labour unit who has lost his job and his home (most farm jobs provide accomodation to staff remember).
Well he moves to town, can he find a rental? Of course not, you’ve upped all the healthy home standards and bright line test so that mum and dad investors who make up most of our property “investors” have decided to sell. And who buys those houses? Well middle class white people (like me), so what happens to our most at risk people?
They end up in emergency housing aka motels. These are the people you campaigned to save!
And those farm owners who can’t afford to carry on, they sell up.
But land prices and debts as high as they are, guess who will purchase it. Yup overseas investors, and they are already doing it. Isn’t that who you were trying to stop?
Now going back to those protests, did you show yourself? No. Did your so called agricultural minister Damien O’Connor MP show himself? No.
And what did you say to the farmers who are proven to be the most advanced, most sustainable, forward thinking farmers in the world, who provided for the country not just with food but with export to support the economy and pay for your COVID relief package!
Oh just that you are carrying on with the regulations and in saying that you are saying you just don’t care. We are forever moving forward as a farming community, always working to nourish our lands and our animals so it continues on for our children, our country and I guess your wages and you can’t see that and neither can your party.
It’s not about utes, it’s not about money. It’s about our people, our lives, our country and our economy.
So yes Jacinda, let’s chat.
And while farmers chat, look, listen and understand that what works can’t be designed and dictated from desks in Wellington.
What works is already being done on the best of farms and the recipe can be replicated, adapted and applied to others, without the big stick regulations so beloved by this government.