Wednesday, 12 October 2022 07:25

One, united voice vital!

Written by  Nadine Tunley
Nadine Tunley Nadine Tunley

OPINION: Last month's welcome announcement by the Government that the RSE cap for 2022-2023 would increase to 19,000 came after weeks of discussions, where it was obvious that all of horticulture is different.

We as the sector know this but the Government, at many levels, does not understand. Yes, I hear you say, "well they should" and I used to think that as well. However, I have learnt that with finite resources and more often than not, tight to unrealistic timeframes, we need to choose our battles.

The Government expects the horticulture sector to come to it with one point of view. It does not have the time or inclination to deal with us all separately. This situation means that between us, we often need to quickly come to a shared position and communicate that succinctly and clearly to the Government, as the decision maker.

Early next year, a substantive review of the RSE scheme will get underway. In this review, it will be imperative that we come together as effectively and efficiently as possible to articulate growers' views and be united. If we cannot do this, we risk losing our seat at the table.

The reality is you all have different views because you are looking at things from your part of the sector's perspective.

That is what we, as your representatives, would expect. However, me and my team's role is to collate and distil all these different views and present the best collective position.

HortNZ can only do this if we are trusted and have a thorough understanding of the dynamics and challenges of commercial fruit and vegetable growing in New Zealand. To be confident in our views, we need growers to talk to us, their product groups and district associations, who then need to work with us to form a collective response.

This will definitely need to happen in the review of the RSE scheme next year. The Government is counting on there being one team at the negotiating table (which includes viticulture for this topic).

If we cannot come together as one team, we will be unable to ensure that the RSE scheme continues to enjoy the success that it has over the past 15 years.

Nadine Tunley is chief executive of Hort NZ

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