Em­pa­thy call ‘bol­locks’

Farmer re­jects ‘un­der­stand­ing’ claim ahead of protest in Labour leader’s home town

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - Claire Trevett

AMor­rinsville farmer has dis­missed Labour leader Jacinda Ardern’s claims to un­der­stand farm­ing as “bol­locks” and said her late grand­fa­ther would be ap­palled, ahead of a protest rally in the town today.

Farm­ers are set to meet for the rally un­der the “mega cow” in Mor­rinsville — the town Ardern grew up in — claim­ing they are fed up with feel­ing like the punch­ing bags of the elec­tion.

Ardern has of­ten in­voked her up­bring­ing in Mor­rinsville, say­ing it had given her an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the is­sues fac­ing farm­ers and hor­ti­cul­tur­ists in New Zealand.

Mor­rinsville farmer and rally or­gan­iser Lloyd Down­ing said Ardern’s claim was “bol­locks”.

“Her fa­ther was a po­lice­man. She doesn’t know any­thing about cows. And her grand­fa­ther in my opinion would be turn­ing over in his grave be­cause he had a dragline in dig­gers and drained most of the coun­try out there in the swamps and plains to Te Aroha.”

Ardern re­sponded by say­ing her fa­ther had also worked on the dragline and she doubted her late grand­fa­ther would be ap­palled.

“He was staunch Labour so he wouldn’t be turn­ing in his grave.”

She said her other grand­par­ents were also farm­ers in the re­gion and very few would use ir­ri­ga­tion so would not be im­pacted by Labour’s wa­ter tax.

Ardern was play­ing up her ru­ral roots at a cam­paign rally in Hamil­ton yes­ter­day, telling them of her up­bring­ing, her ex­pe­ri­ence driv­ing a trac­tor and say­ing New Zealand had to ad­dress the fact that 60 per cent of its wa­ter­ways were not swimmable — in­clud­ing a lot in Waikato.

She also de­nied she had cre­ated a ru­ral-ur­ban di­vide, blam­ing the Na­tional Party for stok­ing that ar­gu­ment. She said of the 12,000 farms in New Zealand, only 2000 re­lied on ir­ri­ga­tion.

Down­ing said the prospect of Green Party poli­cies were es­pe­cially con­cern­ing, such as a tax on ni­trates and dras­tic stock re­duc­tions of 30 per cent on farms.

“The Green Party, holy Toledo. I mean when they talk about eco­nomics it’s just like Hugh Hefner talk­ing about chastity. It’s a bloody joke.”

Or­gan­iser Andrew McGiven said farm­ers from as far away as North­land, Taranaki and Lee­ston in Can­ter­bury were ex­pected at the rally where farm­ers wanted to dis­pel the per­cep­tion of them as the bad­dies for the en­vi­ron­ment.

A celebrity ap­pear­ance is ex­pected — Myr­tle the trac­tor, whose last ap­pear­ance was be­ing driven up Par­lia­ment’s steps dur­ing the 2003 fart tax protests.

McGiven said poli­cies such as new taxes did not only im­pact on the farm­ers them­selves but the com­mu­ni­ties they lived in.

“If farm­ers aren’t do­ing well or if farm­ers are taxed and lose dis­pos­able in­come, that’s go­ing to im­pact on our small towns.”

Many farm­ers were still re­cov­er­ing from the dairy down­turn and re­turns on wool were also low. There was lit­tle recog­ni­tion of work on ri­par­ian plant­ing, fenc­ing drains and wa­ter­ways and us­ing soaks for runoff. Down­ing said farm­ers knew their work had an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and many tried to al­le­vi­ate it.

McGiven said there would not be a march down the streets — partly be­cause it was a state high­way.

“The only march we’re look­ing at do­ing is march­ing down the road and hav­ing a beer. At this time of year farm­ers get a bit iso­lated on the farm and with the weather we’ve had it’s prob­a­bly as much of a men­tal health ex­er­cise as well.”

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