Tuesday, 28 May 2024 09:55

Labour eyes rural votes

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Labour’s ag spokeswoman Jo Luxton with Waikato Federated Farmers president Keith Holmes at the provincial annual meeting this month. Labour’s ag spokeswoman Jo Luxton with Waikato Federated Farmers president Keith Holmes at the provincial annual meeting this month.

Labour Party agriculture spokesperson Jo Luxton is on a mission to win back rural sector votes.

The Labour list MP admits that her party needs to put in the hard yards to win back the confidence of farmers and growers.

On the policy front, Luxton wants to start with a clean slate and is keen to talk to farmers before helping the party formulate its agriculture sector policies.

To this end, the party is organising a two-day event in July for some caucus members to meet industry stakeholders and visit farms. Luxton says the party is working closely with Federated Farmers to organise the event.

At the Feds Waikato branch annual meeting this month, Luxton told farmers that the party got the message "loud and clear" at the last general election.

She noted that over the past few years there has been "a lot of headbutting and locking of horns".

"That's something I'm keenly aware of," she says. "Farmers have told me that they didn't feel heard in the last few years, but I recognise the need to have good relationships with the primary sector.

"So my job is to build relationships, get to hear from you and understand what's important for you."

At the last general election, Labour lost a slew of regional seats it had won from National three years earlier. This included Luxton's Rangitata seat.

The party lost the rural vote based on backlash around a flurry of environmental laws which many farmers claim were rammed through without proper consultation.

Luxton told Dairy News that she's hearing from farmers that Labour "did too much, too fast" during its last term in government.

She says most farmers agreed with the direction of the legislation, but some had concerns about the speed at which it was being implemented.

"I know this caused a lot of anxiety among farmers."

Luxton says she's keen to rebuild relationships and already enjoys a good rapport with Federated Farmers leaders.

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