Damien O’Connor has been put in a unique position in the Labour Government’s new cabinet line-up announced last week.
The former Minister for Primary Industries says Labour has earnt itself a dismal report card as far as farmers are concerned and slow-down in the rural economy will be at their hands.
“The Labour-led coalition has been in government for over 100 days now, yet all they have to show for it is the announcement of a series of expensive reviews and rebrands all the while staying silent on the big issues facing the sector right now.
“The minister Damien O’Connor is raiding $17 million out of the Primary Growth Partnership fund to rebrand MPI, at the expense of vitally important research and development funding – which is now being put on hold.
“He also appears to have shelved the funding and development of any new irrigation projects, just as much of the country is gripped in drought.
“Farmers in regions around the country have all but begged him to officially declare a drought in their areas – just to access some technical and emotional support.
“And for those farmers dealing with the spread of Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease, there’s no good news. Mr O’Connor remains silent on committing the necessary funding to eradicate it as stock culling and compensation is currently on hold.
“My fear is that any bid to cabinet for funding for eradication and then compensation will get ignored because of other big-spending priorities outside of the primary sector.
“I’m calling on the minister and the government he represents to step up and start advocating for a sector whose hard work has helped position New Zealand into the fast-growing economy it is today.
“Any slow-down in the rural economy will be felt across the country – and the government will only have itself to blame,” Guy says.