Tuesday, 15 September 2020 10:46

Putting heart back in the heartland?

Written by  John Jackson
John Jackson. John Jackson.

National's long-held position in Port Waikato is under threat from a new party, according to John Jackson.

OPINION: In the Port Waikato electorate, north of me, there’s quite a stir.

It seems National’s long-held tenure is under threat due to the inception of Heartland NZ and its candidate Mark Ball.

There’s certainly an increase in signage and heightened publicity than one would consider the norm – and if you dig a little deeper, one can see why.

Ball has name recognition. He was a former mayor of Franklin before the district was divided between the Auckland “super city” and the Waikato District Council. In fact, Ball was so popular that his share of the mayoral votes in the 2004 election was greater than all the other participants combined.

Once upon a time, all our parliamentary representatives were chosen by their constituents as upstanding citizens, with a proven track record and life experience to boot. Hence policy, while not necessarily being desired, might at least be “thought through” and practicable. I point this out in comparison to the ideological, theory-driven, inexperienced capability of many MPs today.

Most of you will be going: ‘Heartland who?’ Well, it turns out there has been some thought go into this as well.

According to the Heartland NZ Party spokesman Brendan Balle, contrary to the claims made on Wikipedia, the party is not financially supported by richlisters the Mowbray family, nor is it a designated National support party – as some commentators have suggested.

Heartland claims to be centrist, prepared to work with whoever is in power, and its policy – above all policies – is to ‘moderate or enhance policy with the provinces in mind’.

Their claimed point of difference lies in assessing how every policy might impact the provinces, which as we know has been incapably displayed by governments of late.

In 2008, the then Minister for Agriculture Jim Anderton released a guide for politicians to consider when developing policy called ‘’Rural Proof your Policy”. The idea was to give consideration in policy to the impact on rural communities.

It has obviously gained little traction. Even then, rural communities were considered to be only 14 % of the population – as opposed to the 86% classed as urban – and yet covered 95 % of the land area. It’s only deteriorated further since then.

Which politicians are going to consider the impact on such a small voting sector? None! No wonder we’ve had no traction.

That’s why the delineation needs to be provincial and why the support needs to be too!

Why only the Port Waikato seat? Channelling your energy with purpose is likely to be a lot more successful than trying to spread it countrywide.

Heartland’s policy is to encourage constituents to vote for whichever colour they desire, but to vote Ball as their preferred candidate.

Presuming Heartland NZ doesn’t register more than 5% share of the party vote, but takes the electorate, Ball’s seat may be in addition to the 120 seats nationally. This will increase the number of seats in Parliament, and so too the majority required to govern.

Moreover, Heartland NZ maintains if it can prove this is achievable, watch out for more quality candidates in regional seats for future elections.

It will be interesting to watch from over the boundary. I wish them well. Regional New Zealand, our people, our regionally-based industry and agriculture desperately need a constructive voice right now.

• John Jackson completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce at Lincoln University and read Social Studies at Oxford (Philosophy, Politics, Economics). He farms sheep and beef at Te Akau, North Waikato.

More like this

Helping grow farming’s future

John Jackson’s ability for future and critical thinking saw him deeply involved in the development of an agribusiness programme that has now been rolled out in secondary schools throughout NZ.

DairyNZ's election wishlist

DairyNZ has released its ten policy priorities for the 2020 election and its The View from the Cow Shed report which provides policymakers with insight from the farm.

Boxing on to a bullish farming career

North Waikato sheep and beef farmer John Jackson has had an interesting and eclectic journey on the way to his eventual farming career and farm ownership.

Featured

Look out for rural communities - RWNZ

Rural Women NZ is calling for a commitment to improving the health and well-being of rural families and enhancing rural communities’ reliance from all candidates at this year’s general election.

 

Prices expected to wax and wane

Expect more of the same as dairy prices on Global Dairy Trade (GDT) broke a two-month drought and posted an increase last week.

Beef+Lamb pushing for changes

Farmer-good organisation Beef+Lamb NZ (BLNZ) says it will continue to advocate for changes to the new fresh water regulations.

National

Helping grow farming’s future

John Jackson’s ability for future and critical thinking saw him deeply involved in the development of an agribusiness programme that…

Nothing sustainable without profit

Chair of Dairy Environment Leaders programme Melissa Slattery believes that sustainable farming is highly important to young farmers.

Machinery & Products

JD updates header line-up

John Deere has updated its entire header line-up for combines to include the new HDR Rigid Cutterbar Drapers, RDF HydraFlex…

Hybrid harvesters launched

New Holland has entered the world of hybrid headers, launching a new machine that blends its conventional threshing drum and…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Burn!

OPINION: This old mutt had to have a giggle at the dig Feds recently made at the Green Party in the…

Why?

OPINION: Your canine crusader was aghast to read that the prices of zucchini and cucumbers rose more than 30% in…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter