Thursday, 14 May 2020 17:11

A few crumbs for rural in the budget

Written by  Peter Burke

There are a number of small pockets of money allocated to specific rural initiatives in the budget announced by Finance Minister Grant Robertson on Thursday.

The projects include:

$20 million to ease impacts on Covid-19 on rural and fishing communities

$15 million develop a system of marketing fresh fruit and vegetables that aren’t being bought by supermarkets to ensure they don’t go to waste in the Covid environment

$19.3 million over four years to be to be spent on a range of initiatives to help people who have recently been made unemployed access to training and work opportunities in the private sector.

$1.1 billion to be spent on creating 11,000 environmental jobs in regions. This includes controlling wallabies, wilding pines and other pest eradication mainly within the DOC estate.

Naturally rural communities will benefit from some of the other social spending outlined in the budget. It is also fair to state that the Government has announced other initiatives in regards to the drought over recent weeks.

But while there is emphasis on training people for rural jobs and that’s great, the other half of the equation is missing – connectivity. It has been said by industry leaders over and over again that people are put off locating to rural areas because of the lack of broadband. Great to train people, sure, but if you can’t get cell coverage or fast reliable broadband, the dole might still be an attractive option.

From what I can see there wasn’t a dollar offered up for this in the budget. The budget has a Wellington-centric ring about it. Earlier today, the President of Federated Farmers told a group of agricultural journalists that one of the disappointments during her presidency is the lack of understanding by Wellington officials of rural issues.

The failure by successive governments to seriously invest in rural broadband is dumb and now with Covid-19, quality connectivity is more essential than ever. Industry good organisations, educators, health professional and businesses who deal with rural communities are being kneecapped by the lack connectivity. How come they can see the problem, when the Wellington bureaucracy and their political masters appear to be so out of touch with reality?

More like this

Budget funding unveiled

Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor claims at least 2000 farmers will be helped with on-the-ground support to lift their environmental sustainability as part of Budget 2019 funding.

Reversing the trend of degradation

Environment Minister David Parker recently told a Forest & Bird meeting about the Productive and Sustainable Land Use package unveiled in the Budget. Here are excerpts from his speech.

Budget blues

Now that the circus surrounding the Budget’s release has subsided, Milking It makes the following observations about some of its contents.


Water reforms come at a cost

The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.

2020 harvest yields up

Final harvest data for wheat, barley and oats (milling/malting and feed) in 2020 show yields were up 17% overall across the six crops.


Difficult but the right call

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the joint decision three years ago to eradicate Mycoplamsa bovis was a difficult call.

Milking cluster milks runner-up award

DeLaval has come away with the runner up prize in this year’s Fieldays Online innovation competition with a new milking cluster that eliminates the need for conventional liner changes.

Glow worms to cows

Thomas Lundman's work focus has gone from tracking tiny critters in pitch black caves to looking after considerably larger animals in paddocks near Whakatane.

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Spell check

Your old mutt was not surprised to see the NZ Dairy Industry Awards hastily remove the title of this year’s…

About time!

Your canine crusader has been a long-time critic of NZ governments – of all stripes – who, for the past…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter