OPINION: A mate of the Hound reckons if you ever wondered why the current Labour Government seems so far removed from rural and farming interests, one only has to look at the make-up of its supposedly 'rural' caucus.
Unfortunately, over the past term of government, the country has got used to the PM giving nice speeches, but not delivering much.
Housing, child poverty statistics and failing infrastructure are just three areas where Ardern talked a big game, but has delivered abysmally.
Let’s hope this stretch on the treasury benches is really her Government’s ‘term of delivery’.
As Ardern acknowledged in the speech, with her recent election victory – and the success of Labour in rural New Zealand – “comes huge responsibility”. The PM told the conference the vote meant a requirement by her Government “to work more closely with our rural communities” and that she wants to see more of this. She also claimed that she had “made it very clear to our all our MPs, as well as those in provincial seats, that the primary sector is a key partner and stakeholder for this Government.”
Again, all very nice words.
However, despite touching on a couple of points in the speech that are currently concerning rural NZ, Ardern failed to give any concrete answers that are desperately needed.
She glibly mentioned seasonal labour problems currently being experienced in the both the farming and horticultural sectors – exacerbated by her Government’s border closures – but failed to say what, if anything, she would actually do about it.
Then came the ‘elephant in the room’ – her Government’s new freshwater regulations. Despite numerous examples that these have been poorly thought out and totally impractical to implement in many situations, Ardern failed to properly address these failings.
Claiming that if some aspects of the regulations are found to be impractical to implement, “ministers will receive that advice with the view to making the regulations workable”.
Sorry, those are nothing but weasel words.
Ever since the new regulations came into law in September, accounts of the impracticality and impossibility of the new rules have flooded in from all around the country.
Yet all that Ardern’s involved ministers, David Parker and Damien O’Connor, have said is they may “tweak” some of the rules, if they feel like it. That is both arrogant and ignorant.
The PM’s failure to acknowledge this proves that she is – again – talking a good game, but not delivering.