Govt secretive on Groundswell correspondence

It is really disappointing to see that Prime Minister has not fronted up and engaged with Groundswell NZ following their nationwide protests in July, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Joseph Mooney says.

“The Groundswell protests sent a clear and direct message to the Government that rural communities are fed up with its unrealistic and impractical approach to a range of important issues. An estimated 60,000 people lined the streets of 57 towns and cities across the country in one of New Zealand’s biggest ever protests and they shouldn’t be ignored.

“I was at Groundswell NZ’s protest in Gore alongside Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson, who founded the group in the Southland Electorate. I have been in regular contact since and I met them when they presented a petition seeking to amend the National Policy Statement For Freshwater Management to the Environment Select Committee in Wellington last month.

“If Government Ministers took the time to meet with Groundswell NZ representatives they’d have a better grasp of the passion and dedication farmers have for looking after their land. Our free range, grass-fed farming systems are the envy of countries around the world. Let’s not forget also that our farmers are some of the most carbon efficient on the planet.

“The Government should be working with farmers to drive that innovation further and facilitate this collaborative approach. Farmers are the ones I want driving improved environmental outcomes, not heavy handed Government Ministers and their policy makers in Wellington.

“Now Government Ministers including the Prime Minister are withholding Groundswell NZ related correspondence from the media following an Official Information Act (OIA) request. This has been referred to the Ombudsman.

“It is no wonder that rural communities are feeling like the Government is hostile to them. They won’t talk to them, but they clearly talk about them!

“New Zealand should be engaging in free and open debate on farming issues, not guessing what impractical measure the Government might come up with next.”