Thursday, 01 July 2021 07:55

Editorial: Embarrassing!

Written by  Staff Reporters
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor

OPINION: Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor was fortunate enough to be out of the country when his 'Fit for a Better World Progress Update 2021' was released at Fieldays.

It would have been one of the most vacuous, unimpressive, pathetic and light-weight documents ever produced for the primary sector.

In the press release for this ‘report’ – or more correctly cut and paste job of thoughtbubbles – it made a number of outlandish claims. The one that really stands out was the hailing by the Government and so-called ‘sector leaders’ group the Food and Fibre Partnership Group (FFPG) for 5,200 jobs in the primary sector.

You have got to be kidding! In an industry that was desperately crying out for labour for more than a year, the very same Government – with no or little pushback by the FFPG – has refused to open up the border to badly-needed overseas workers for the sector.

This would be laughable, if it wasn’t so serious. Just how many of these jobs have anything actually to do with this lame project, on top of those that would have found work in the sector anyway? As the song says: ‘Not may, if any’!

“The Government is committed to working with our sector partners to drive New Zealand’s economic recovery and ongoing prosperity,” the press release boasted.

Really? Isn’t this the same outfit that is imposing costly water reforms, carbon taxes, compulsory biodiversity plans and taxes on farm utes – all with the tacit backing of our industry leadership?

Which brings us to these supposed ‘sector partners’ and the aforementioned Food and Fibre Partnership Group. Frankly, this is a bunch of handpicked government lackeys, including the heads of MPI, MBIE and the Environment Ministry.

However, what is more concerning for the sector is that it also includes the chairs of Beef+Lamb, DairyNZ and Hort NZ and is chaired by former Ag Trade Envoy Mike Petersen.

If the industry-good bodies ever wanted to know why they are seen as out-of-touch and toothless, impotent and not having farmers’ backs, signing off this kind of rubbish is a big part of it.

It is galling enough when supposed farming leaders are acquiescing and complacently cuddling up to government – and some are actually getting paid handsomely for it – but agreeing with this type of inane and insipid report is an indictment. They all should be totally embarrassed.

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