The New Zealand Rural Party is holding its first public meeting this weekend but it might not be the Rural party at the end of it.
The meeting will establish an executive, approve the draft constitution and discuss the party’s name.
The party was founded by Horeke farmer, forester and Northland regional councillor Joe Carr and Okaihau farmer, contractor and former Far North Holdings director Ken Rintoul, who claim political parties that had traditionally had provincial New Zealand’s interests at heart were now focused on the major urban centres. . .
The party was formed a few months ago but is not yet registered and its founders are already have second thoughts about its name.
Co-founder Ken Rintoul says . . . the party has attracted around 250 members over the past four months and is about half way to reaching the 500 needed to become a registered political party.
He says it has also become clear that its policies on helping New Zealand’s exporters and manufacturers have struck a chord with far more than just rural communities and the party’s name may well have to change.
Hmm, how does that sit with this statement on its website?:
Your political voice from New Zealand’s rural communities, towns, service sectors and value added manufacturers.
A party ought to work out what and who it stands for before it’s established.
Not having done that, isn’t stopping its founders, though.
. . . In 2014 they will field candidates in the general election but as a relatively small blip on the political horizon can the NZ Rural Party seriously expect to make any impact in Wellington?
”Look at the Maori Party” exclaims Joe Carr.’ Four people holding the balance of power!”. . .
Those four people also hold seats which are designated as Maori seats. Without the seats it is very unlikely they would be in parliament and it would be much harder for a new party to win general seats.
It would be harder still for a rural party when there are so few rural voters.
Statistically farmers make up 6%of the population while the provincial community is 22%. Including forestry and other rural workers the entire rural population is less than 25% of the whole and yet-and this is where the NZ Rural Party believes it can generate political persuasiveness-the rural sector contributes 60% of the country’s export gross domestic product. . .
It’s not easy for a new party to get traction without standing for something which sets it apart from the others and the Rural (for now) Party’s policies don’t do that:
• NZ Exchange rate is too high
• Local Government Reforms should continue
• ETS-No tax on animal emissions
• Too much bureaucratic RMA
• The nation owns water
• Infrastructure-Rural NZ road funding – shafted by Government
• Full reciprocal land purchasing rights for New Zealanders in foreign countries
• Productivity and profitability should be encouraged
• Rural NZ has much to offer
Most of these aren’t even policies, they’re statements of problems and opinions.
The party might be able to work out exactly who it’s trying to represent.
It might be able to find a name which suits those diverse adherents.
It might double its membership to the 500 required for registration.
It might be able to develop policies.
It might even find some poor deluded souls willing to stand as candidates.
But its chances of getting into parliament are about the same as mine of winning Lotto tonight – and I haven’t got a ticket.