Wednesday, 02 March 2022 10:55

Backing rural New Zealand

Written by  Chris Luxon
National Party leader Christopher Luxon addressing the crowd in Morrinsville late last year. National Party leader Christopher Luxon addressing the crowd in Morrinsville late last year.

OPINION: In my very first speech as National Party Leader, I said that our farmers are not villains.

Our provincial heartland has felt taken for granted for too long.

I'm proud to lead a party that is committed to standing up for farmers and rural communities - committed to representing you, championing your causes, and reducing the regulatory burden you face.

One of the things I've consistently heard loud and clear as a Member of Parliament is how New Zealand's rural communities are feeling innundated by costs, rules and regulations flowing from Wellington.

Inevitably, the decisions coming from the Beehive that affect your lives and livelihoods are being made by the current Labour government with almost no understanding of the real effects these create, or the obligations or implementation challenges they pose.

In my previous role as National's local government, I saw this first-hand with the Water Services Bill. It's a classic example of yet another ill-conceived blow dealt to rural New Zealand by the Government. It was just the latest after freshwater regulations, slope rules, labour workforce shortages, SNAs, land tenure review in high country, the Climate Commission wanting to dramatically cut livestock farming, and the infamous Ute Tax.

It's no wonder farmers and their families are feeling hit from every angle - all while tending to the countless worries, uncertainties and problems that make up their day.

Having travelled the world, I can assure you that NZ is the best country on planet earth, but under the current administration we have become inwards-looking and fearful. The reality is we need to back people who want to make things happen and go out and do business with the world with confidence.

Some 80% of the country's exports come from the primary sector, the sector employs around 350,000 people and generates around $9,000 income for every individual in the country.

The industry needs to be respected, I urge you never to apologise for being a farmer or rural person.

Current government policy is about caution and stopping things happening, something akin to trying to return 10 tennis balls served at once, in the shape of multiple dysfunctional regulations being heaped on farmers from the corridors of Wellington.

The National Party will propose solutions in a pragmatic manner, using science-based data, including looking at freshwater reforms on a catchment by catchment basis rather than "robbing" infrastructure developed and funded by local councils over many years. Water storage will be prominent on our agenda, alongside addressing the immigration log jam that stops the right people with the right skills being allowed to fill many job opportunities in the agri-sector.

The National Party I lead will be focused on both opposing and proposing. We'll oppose the Government's wasteful spending, non-delivery and policy failures that are making it harder than ever for Kiwis to get ahead - causing house prices to climb, benefit dependency to rise and the cost of living to soar.

But we'll be equally focused on proposing constructive ideas and solutions. We'll take the time to listen and work with you in developing our rural and agricultural policy - because we understand you know your jobs and communities best.

National is the party for rural New Zealand.

We'll keep standing by our farmers, agri-workers and provincial communities, and valuing the outsize contribution you make to our incredible little country.

Christopher Luxon is the Leader of the National Party.

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