Howl of a protest II: Groundswell planning even larger action from farmers

Groundswell New Zealand says it is planning a “major nationwide protest event” in November, following a lack of response by the Government to its concerns.

Although a date was yet to be set and details of the event outlined, spokesman Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, said it would be “of a scale and impact that will be significant in New Zealand’s history”.

Last month, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part nationally in Groundswell NZ’s Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what it says are unworkable government regulations.

Its Enough is Enough message, outlining the group’s concerns, which was delivered at the protests, gave the Government a month to address the issues, or it would take further action.

Yesterday, McKenzie said various campaign actions would be undertaken before the November protest.

The first was this Friday and called Can Your Hear Us? At 12.30pm, Groundswell NZ was calling for a show of two minutes’ support “by every car, bike, truck, train — anything with a horn” tooting in support of its campaign. That would be repeated every Friday for the following three weeks.

Asked whether he believed there would be as much support as for Howl of a Protest, McKenzie said he was confident there would be “a lot more”.

There were indications from people not part of the first protest, because it was held during the week, that they would like to be involved, along with some in the transport industry.

There had been “no let-up” for the Groundswell NZ team since Howl of a Protest.

“It’s full on all the time now. People are wanting more,” he said.

The group was also writing to all councils calling for a halt to all Resource Management Act planning processes.

That was mainly because of the significant negative impact zonings such as SNAs (significant natural areas), wetlands and landscapes were having on people and their property values, McKenzie said.

The group was also calling for landowners to decline access for councils or their agents wanting to undertake mapping or information gathering on private land.

The group’s campaign was primarily concerned about the “unworkable” regulations including freshwater, indigenous biodiversity and climate change. It recently added the Three Waters reform and Water Services Bill to the list.

McKenzie reiterated the group was not against the need for regulation nor the need to care for the environment. Nor was it calling for a halt to addressing environmental issues.

“We are saying there are much better, proven solutions to addressing environmental issues than the one-size-fits-all approach being legislated by the Government.”

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday acknowledged farmers had legitimate concerns about pressures they were facing, particularly relating to staff shortages.

However, it was simply not true to say the Government did not care for farmers or that it did not listen to them.

“The reality is that we do listen to farmers. Partnership is fundamental in our approach to tackling issues,” he said.

He outlined various measures the Government had put in place to support the primary industry including amending planned freshwater regulations and extending the essential worker visa programme.

“What concerns me about some of the protest messages is that the wider public may come away with a perception that farmers are opposed to improving freshwater quality, participating in our climate change response, managing animal welfare, or are not appreciative of the collaborative efforts Government is making with the sector.”

Source: Read Full Article