Labour and rural voters

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, November 6th, 2017 - 94 comments
Categories: Conservation, Deep stuff, democratic participation, Economy, elections, Environment, farming, farming, jacinda ardern, labour, national, Shane Jones, vote smart - Tags: ,

What would it take for Labour to win back rural support?

Even at this Jacindamania peak, Labour got pasted in the regions. Again.

The Democrats are having to face the same question, particularly with the Virgina election coming up in a couple of days:

Yes, Red State Wins Are Possible

Beyond the seats of Hawkes Bay and the West Coast, Labour no longer has a meaningful rural component.

Invercargill and East Coast have been won occasionally, both with a large rural hinterland.  New Plymouth used to be pretty even, same with Whanganui.

Then slim pickings.

Well, Labour doesn’t have a meaningful rural component, except for the Maori seats.

Three of those are largely rural: Hauraki-Waikato, Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Waiariki.

Far be it from me to detect a common pattern of attractiveness in Labour’s Maori members to rural voters there.  But there’s a big rural component, which they win.

The Labour Party must be able to maintain its strong base with women, ethnic minorities in South Auckland and northern Wellington, and inner city electorates, while simultaneously creating a successful rural strategy.

Yet we have to go a long, long way back in history to find progressive politicians who have really inspired the provinces.
Let’s start with Prime Minister Richard Seddon.

This guy came out of the hard core of the west coast. He was mocked in parliament for his provincial accent, and had no formal education.

So what did he do that the whole people of the west coast so loved him for?

He became the nation’s king of mining operations and regulation. He also railed against all elites. But his signature policy was the formation of old age pensions.

It was incredibly hard to get through parliament, such that it undermined his health. This policy was the foundation of our welfare state. He was a guy with fire in his belly, an expansionist and confident view of the future of New Zealand, and he stood up for the west coast as a real hard-ass fighter, and was adored for it.

The first Labour government thought and acted in the interests of rural people.

They established a country library service and a horseback allowance, they expanded the correspondence school, increased boarding and travel allowances for rural children, strengthened rural schools, enabled returning servicemen to get farms, and guaranteed prices for farmers’ produce. That and a whole bunch more, despite abolishing the country quota of electorates. Ministers of Agriculture were hard working farmers themselves, including Lee Martin, James Barclay, and Edward Cullen.

This current Labour-led government is the first to have positive policies aimed straight for the rural sector in a long, long time. $1 billion to rural projects. Scrapping the water tax. Encouraging organic farming. Supporting the rural riparian margins. Supporting free trade particularly for rural exports (despite the Canadians and Japanese) against global subsidies and protections.

Time to attempt to reverse this trend to losing the rural vote.

There are a few possible inroads, which may turn a few votes their way next time if it’s highly focussed.

  • Labour needs to find a way to throw full-throated support behind dairy farmers. You heard me. They are too big a part of our country to be implied enemies. They could start by reviewing the legislation that formed Fonterra, and hold them to account on behalf of dairy farmers: more value, greater payouts, less mess, more trade access.
  • Defend rural land from foreign buyers, just as they are intending to do.
  • They need more actual farmers in its ranks. Not lifestylers. People that show generations of commitment to turning up, not sounding too smart-arse educated, people that really work hard. Check the way Liz Craig ate away into the national vote in Invercargill this time, after multiple terms working that electorate. Respect.
  • Their rural Maori MPs need to do crossover work into Pakeha rural enclaves: Parliamentary ghettoization is corrosive.
  • Their credibility with rural people will be enhanced by scaling back on more direct regulation and scaling up support for shrinking rural towns. Building up regional government with funding, and supporting rural roads through greater NZTA funding would help.
  • Make sure that $1 billion actually gets spent within one parliamentary term by holding Shane Jones to account. Make a difference Shane.
  • Target rural media with surprising stories: regional rail, horticultural growth, regional airports, regional roads, organic farm successes, Country Life as RNZ tv.
  • Build their farm workers houses. Thousands of them. Just as they are promising to do. Then shift the furniture in themselves.
  • Turn up to rural events until they trust you again. The A&P Shows, autumn festivals, harvest festivals, district plan change hearings, church fetes, smaller school prizegivings, and farmers markets.

I sure ain’t saying it’s going to be easy to reverse generations of growing district of Labour. It’s going to be hard, tough, repetitive political work.

Above all, sound like you have a positive and optimistic view of the whole of New Zealand that explicitly includes rural life. It’s not some sickly-sweet chocolate box of tasseled boganettes rolling in rich tall green hayseed grass popping out babies, or some wastrel paradise of P production where cows roll around lighting their farts on a Friday night doped to their fat eyelashes, nor some knuckle-ragging squad of f-grade provincial Rugby teams smacking down all effete university-trained opposition like a running yelling line of Braveheart highlanders. They are committed people who work hard on the land and for our land. Labour could do worse than to be and be seen to be the same. One word: respect.

The alternative is increasingly to let National have it all – a fully blue New Zealand set of electorates – without resistance.

94 comments on “Labour and rural voters”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    I think that if the coalition with NZ First works out then it is worth asking if it is a good idea for Labour to try and win back the provincial blue collar vote, or to cede them to it’s coalition partner as part of the quid pro quo of a long term governing arrangement. After all, National’s failure has been it’s inability to construct governing partners, a failure obscured by the 44% brigades insistance that National is somehow dominant because it ate all its partners.

    An alliance of a party that represents the socially conservative but potentially economically radical provincial vote with a more urban party like Labour potentially removes many internal pressure ponits and cause of division, whilst in MMP offering a good chance of forming a governing coalition along with the Greens.

    • Antoine 1.1

      Sanc, this is a good strategy in the short term but fails when Peters leaves politics and NZ1st vote evaporates…

      A.

      • Why do people always assume that NZ1st will evaporate when Peters leaves politics?

        NZ1st seems to be part of our political landscape now and I, for one, think it will still be there after Peters. I think Peters is good enough to understand that there does need to be a replacement for him.

        • lprent 1.1.1.1

          It is part of the landscape and has all to the hallmarks of a real party. I think that hoping it will disappear with Peters is.just deluged. There are quite a few personalities in there and some formidable political talent that can’t be expressed fully until Peters leaves.

          • Matthew Whitehead 1.1.1.1.1

            I think it will definitely always have voters, the question is will it still have a path to Parliament after Peters. It’s hilarious they’re opposed to lowering the threshold because there’s a very real chance that it will kill them off without a powerful personality that can pull media attention like Peters at the helm.

            That said, I think it’s absolutely possible it will hang in there long enough that the understudies will learn their lines and turn it into a permanent political vehicle. It is the only unashamedly conservative party in our Parliament, after all, both Labour and National are liberal-conservative coalitions, effectively.

            • Antoine 1.1.1.1.1.1

              > I think it’s absolutely possible it will hang in there long enough that the understudies will learn their lines and turn it into a permanent political vehicle

              Possible but seems unlikely to me.

              1. If you take their current popularity (7%?) and subtract whatever Peters brings to the table, you don’t have much left, surely not 5%

              2. Labour is stealing their oxygen. Much of NZ 1st’s support was xenophobes and they should be reasonably happy to vote Labour now that the Labs support immigration cutbacks. Throw a few freebies to the elderly and what else has NZ 1st got?

              A.

    • Peter 1.2

      Now that coalition Governments are fully understood to be the name of the game, what might National’s strategy be to develop new coalition partners? For instance, do they have anything in common with TOP?

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    good topic for discussion

    there are electorates like Northland that on demographics should not vote tory–ever–but voting National up here has become like a bad habit, one that surely needs to be broken, there was an aberration over the Sabin affair, but even Winston could not hold on when the Labour vote went back to Willow Jean

    the reason “we’re blue around here mate” persists, is due substantially to the reactionary conservatives long time capture of leadership, such as it is, and more particularly “gatekeeping”, of rural society; this means that your acceptance into the community, employment, social activity, and even potentially very life, can depend on “fitting in” and basically being compliant to the prevailing political culture, the provinces are often not the multicultural mix of the cities either, sometimes being almost ‘apartheid’ in feel with Pākehā and Māori running parallel existences

    from the school BOTs, to “calf day”, horse eventing, the Police stations and rural Fire “Party” stations, the lodges, societies, sports clubs, business associations, rural servicing companies, district councils, Regional Councils, community boards and district planning, to power supply, DHBs and Civil Defence–it is 98% tied up by active (think about that word) National Party members and supporters–go through the lists of people in your area and see if I am correct…

    this will obviously take many years to seriously turn around, but yes, real attention to rural development that is transformational–like rejuvenated rail links in Northland/Whangarei will sure help gain support for Labour/Green/NZ First

    • DH 2.1

      That’s an excellent summary TM, you’ve encapsulated near everything I thought but wouldn’t have been able to express.

      Adding an anecdote to that….

      I looked to transfer the business out of Auckland and couldn’t believe the price of commercial property up North. It should be way, way cheaper to rent or buy commercial premises but it ain’t. I walked away from the idea with the impression the landed gentry are very happy with strangling the supply of commercial property and collecting high rents from their own holdings.

      • Tiger Mountain 2.1.1

        perennial problem in the North, lot of empty commercial buildings in Whangarei and Kaitaia and other parts–the idea of “incubators” etc., or lower rents to encourage new business is rare up here

        an anecdote for you–Northtec wants to cut staff at its various campuses due to the “bums on seats” model when it comes down to it, and one of the first areas will be Visual and Digital Arts! luckily the students have been out and about getting support and have appointments scheduled with relevant MPs in the new Govt.

        • DH 2.1.1.1

          Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it, but the property owner knows that reducing rents to fill empty buildings has a flow on effect to already filled buildings. They don’t want to give up their gravy train.

          I’ve been spending more time up North and I’m constantly bemused by the high prices for goods. Even the simple bakeries are charging Auckland prices. It’s a myth that high transport costs are the culprit, it costs bugger-all to freight goods and lower rents should more than compensate for that. I’m convinced you pay too much because commercial rents are too high.

          • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1.1

            Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it, but the property owner knows that reducing rents to fill empty buildings has a flow on effect to already filled buildings. They don’t want to give up their gravy train.

            And if they’re free-hold on those premises, which many probably are, then even having an empty building probably isn’t that much of an issue.

            I’m convinced you pay too much because commercial rents are too high.

            People in a position to charge excessive rents will do so.

            But think of all the whinging that we’d hear if the government moved in, grabbed a heap of land and started an actually thriving business hub with reasonable rents.

            • In Vino 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Good point. When I was young, State Insurance was called so because it was state-owned, and its role was to compete in the market just aiming at a moderate profit, thereby easily undercutting the private profit-gougers.
              To keep them honest… It worked to my mind. I was appalled at the cost of motor insurance in England and France 1977-80, where they had no such company. But our beloved Rogernomes under Labour quickly put an end to that: State Insurance kept its name but was sold off to private hands.
              Up went costs of motor insurance, as if by magic.
              So what we now need is a state company to buy and rent out commercial premises at a moderate profit. That would really undercut the stinking profit-gougers who for so long have extorted far too much from our productive people who need premises. Profit-gouging, unproductive middle-men, the whole lot of them. Starting with names like Brierly and Jones.

              Why should they not have to compete on a level playing-field with non-gougers like the state?

      • Shona 2.1.2

        Spot on DH. The landed gentry of Northland have had so much land and money for so long whilst breeding with their relatives that they are incapable of forward thinking. They like being stuck in the 1950’s. Our kids mostly have all fled overseas and do not intend to return despite solid community connections here. It is so backward in rural NZ.
        Combined Willow Jean Winston vote was well over 20,000 in Northland. No reason why a combined effort wouldn’t take the seat back for either party. Ms Prime is very popular and the right policy mix targeting women would get the Green/Maori vote too.

        • Tiger Mountain 2.1.2.1

          the future of the North is most likely ‘young and brown’–it is tantalisingly close but not just yet, the “tory coots in suits” are nearing their end of days

          Willow Jean should be the natural pick for Northland seat

          • AB 2.1.2.1.1

            Old tory coots in suits are some of the dullest, dumbest and least imaginative people you will encounter in these places – the very last people who should be in charge. And probably not even in business – though that said, they are very good at protecting what they have.

      • Sabine 2.1.3

        not only Northland. there are a lot of businesses not created because commercial properties, even run down ones, are the same price of an equivalent property in AKL.

        lots of empty properties in Taupo, Rotorua, Tokoroa, Whakamaru!!, Te Kuiti, Turangi, Taumaranui etc because people just can’t afford to spend 20 + grand for an ‘office’ space ex GST and outgoings, and funny all commercial properties seem to be ‘office spaces’.

        Is the tax write of for empty properties that good an incentive to keep real estate empty?

        And is Labour gonna do something about it?

  3. Labour needs to find a way to throw full-throated support behind dairy farmers. You heard me. They are too big a part of our country to be implied enemies.

    So are employers. And, like employers, dairy farmers already have a party that offers them full-throated support, a level of support that Labour couldn’t hope to compete with. Trying to go after your competitor’s core customer base when you have less to offer that customer base than your competitor is a recipe for disaster.

    • Puckish Rogue 3.1

      It can be done, National is doing well in South Auckland for example, it just needs to be done correctly

      Like water surcharges

      • National has a way in to South Auckland via being able to fake sympathy for socially conservative viewpoints. Labour’s only potential market among dairy farmers is among those who’d like to adopt a less-damaging mode of operation, which is a pretty small part of an already-small group of voters.

        • Puckish Rogue 3.1.1.1

          Not true, I’ll bet theres a large number of people in the regions that care quite a bit about the environment, that see the economic benefits of having a pristine environment whether it be via farming, adventure tourism, hunting etc etc

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.1

            Of course there are – that’s why we get huge amounts of whinging from the rural sectors when we seek to clean up our rivers and waterways from the damage done by farming…

            Oh, wait…

          • Psycho Milt 3.1.1.1.2

            Not true, I’ll bet theres a large number of people in the regions that care quite a bit about the environment…

            I expect there are. However, the point was about the value of targeting dairy farmers, who are a small subset of people in the regions.

            I’d suggest the government starts by working with, not alienating, the farmers

            Both Labour and the Greens have said they’ll be happy to work with farmers on reducing farming’s environmental impact. It’s the “reducing farming’s environmental impact” part that’s alienating the farmers, not Labour Party hostility.

            • Puckish Rogue 3.1.1.1.2.1

              It’s the “reducing farming’s environmental impact” part that’s alienating the farmers, not Labour Party hostility

              Sure so the water charge fiasco didn’t start out as trying to make farmers the scapegoats

        • Aaron 3.1.1.2

          Farming is changing, there are fewer and fewer people owning more and more of the land these days, most of the young farmers are either working for them or struggling share milkers being screwed over by landowners. There is huge potential – and more importantly a huge need – to do something in those communities.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.2.1

            I find it amazing that people can write stuff like that and not realise the problem.

            You identified the problem – the solution is to get rid of that problem.

      • swordfish 3.1.2

        Puckers

        It can be done, National is doing well in South Auckland for example

        Not all that well, Puckers

        2017 National Party-Vote %

        Māngere 17%
        Manukau East 23%
        Manurewa 29%

        It’s true that they did manage to withstand the nationwide swing in South Auckland – I’ll give you that … (though the broader Right Bloc vote was still down – the Nats gobbling up their little helpers as elsewhere)

        • Puckish Rogue 3.1.2.1

          Well ok then fair enough, maybe I should have used Chris Bishop as an example. Hutt South (thanks Wikipedia) replaced Pencarrow which replaced Petone so stretching back to 1946 the electorate was Labour but this election National won the seat

          Basically it can be done was my point

  4. Keith 4

    It’s hard to see how.

    National were all too willing to wipe out elected boards like Ecan to suit vested interests for irrigation
    Change the definition of polluted waterways to quickly and cheaply deal with the nasty effects of sloppy farming practices,
    Delete livestock farming from climate change regulation,
    Remove higher risk farming from health and safety laws
    Pour millions of taxpayer dollars into other fanciful schemes that bore no fruit,
    Ensure irrigation won over the environment,
    Supply cheap exploitable migrant labour for what would otherwise be a failed business model,
    And basically ensure no enquiry would touch farm life.

    To Federarated Farmers, the National Party were an extension of their organisation.

    Quite how any other party corrupts themselves to anything approaching the same level for rural NZ is a question Labour or any other ethical party will struggle with.

    9 years of this kind of partisan shit has left some quite damaging after effects!

    • garibaldi 4.1

      Nine years? It has been more like 150 years and is now part of their DNA. They will never accept Labour, having been bred to believe Labour=Communism.

      • timeforacupoftea 4.1.1

        I would believe the farmers who vote for The National Party if they read the article Written By: ADVANTAGE – Date published: 7:30 am, November 6th, 2017.
        Labour and rural voters.
        They would Automatically think Armageddon, Labour want us to turn into Amish Farmers.

        http://amishamerica.com/a-visit-to-an-amish-ghost-town/

        Aye ! Great idea Advantage on wrecking the Natz Farmers.
        This could work I suppose.

        Would be good for us Labourites for Xmas holidays at home wouldn’t.

        A TOURISM bonus, excellent for our visiting Freedom Campers.

        http://amishamerica.com/tourism/

        Lets do this.
        Copy to Jacina Adern.

    • Quite how any other party corrupts themselves to anything approaching the same level for rural NZ is a question Labour or any other ethical party will struggle with.

      Te solution to that is to make such corruption illegal. Difficult but possible.

  5. Zorb6 5

    Yes try and please everyone.That is a sure recipe for failure.Dairy farmers themselves are not a large group.The small business sector however is worth devoting time to,as is boosting regional development.Corporates and the big cities have had all the attention and the resources in recent times.This Govt better have broad shoulders-the expectations are unbelievable.

  6. cleangreen 6

    Yes advantage; you are so correct here.

    We ran a good campaign in Napier and gisborne.

    Luckily we got Stuart Nash re-elected but Gisborne was left to the ‘persuation’ of a very tory right wing editor of the gisborne herald and Labour failed there and stayed tory.
    Gisborne previous to 2008 went to Labour back during the Helen Clark era.

    So our community issues of having no rail, (National stole the rail mainaintence funds and allowed the rail along one km to get washed out) so these issues along with other environmental issues never were aired properly effectively during the election.

    This time while Labour has the numbers the labour coalition must bring forwared the public media plan to have their own media again to present in a wide range of meaningful ways all their planed changes they are about to make using their new RNZ/TVone non commercial platforms and leave the right wing ‘baised media’ to spin their wheels ineffectively while a new positrive Labour coalition media tell the real positive side of the story.

    By the next election we will have a clear ‘responsive’ media trhat is prepared to cover community provincial issues as we had back in the helen Clark era.

    If anyone thinks the media is fair now redad the respose we got from RNZ CEO’s office after we filed an OIA for details about him providing us with no HB reporter now, as the OIA asked him why we had no HB/Gisborne regional reporter now.

    His OIA ‘co-ordinator Mr George Bignell replied simply that they had no HB reporter now (as they used to have during the Clark Government,) and he was un-apologetic about it at the same time.

    read his letter below.

    Here is a copy of the request for information as to why no reporting service for HB/Gisborne is not available any more now.
    ===========================================================
    October 13, 2017
    Mr ——————-
    Napier 4140

    Dear Mr ———-
    I write in response to your request “how the regional reporting structure of the Radio NZ broadcasting services now are different to the way the operations serviced the regions formerly.”
    I can advise that RNZ does not hold any specific information in this regard that we can supply to you. To answer your question, apart from the relocation of one reporting position from our Queenstown office to our Dunedin office, there has been no recent changes to our regional reporting structure.
    The Hawkes Bay regional reporting position is currently vacant and Radio New Zealand will look to fill that position in the near future.

    We trust this of assistance to you.
    Yours sincerely
    George Bignell
    OIA Inquiries Coordinator
    GEORGE BIGNELL | OIA INQUIRIES COORDINATOR
    RADIO NEW ZEALAND | LEVEL 2 | 155 THE TERRACE
    PO BOX 123 | WELLINGTON | NEW ZEALAND 6140 | http://www.radionz.co.nz
    DDI +64 4 474 1424 | Mobile 027 491 2246

    Labour must restore thew regional reportig of all community issues brought before them for ‘fair balanced’ media coverage for the best interests of the local commmuities in tha regions where L:abour need to get the points accross and appeal to those voters Labour is on the right track. (in HB/Gisbone’s case it should widely xcover the lost “rail track”.)

  7. Gristle 7

    One of my in laws, who runs a Southland sheep farm, surprised me over the weekend.

    They commented that they hadn’t seen much from the Key and English Governments and that having a Labour led Government was not that bad a thing. While not voting for any of the Government parties, they were not seeing this as an inherently antagonistic relationship.

    The objective must be to build on this view by showing regional development, and showing that water, nitrates, CO2, workplace health and safety all are capable of being addressed for a sustainable rural life.

    • Robert Guyton 7.1

      True, Gristle and I note your comment, “While not voting for any of the Government parties…” – therein lies the rub!

  8. Puckish Rogue 8

    Always a good idea for parties to reach out (John Key did it very well) but its not just National Labour will be up against but rather NZFirst

    To me it looks like NZFirst is making a big play into rural NZ voting so Labour will have to counter that or make sure Winston doesn’t claim all the credit for whatever positive happens in the regions

    Still if you don’t try then you’ll never know

    • Tamati Tautuhi 8.1

      Labour/NZF/Greens need to demonstrate to the NZ Public that they can function as a decisive and proactive MMP Government otherwise they will not last long and people will gravitate back to the main parties ?

  9. red-blooded 9

    It’s good to see discussions about policy and things like attending rural events Thinking about this issue another way, though, Labour don’t have to win rural electorates in order to increase their party vote in rural areas. Down here in the lower South we ran a very integrated campaign this time, with Dunedin activists giving a lot of practical support in the wider area. There was active mentoring of candidates. The vote percentage went up substantially throughout the area and while we didn’t win any of the rural electorates we now have more active branches dotted about and MPs who will have offices in Invercargill and Timaru. That in itself should start to build more profile and sense of connection.

    If we can do it, so can other regions.

  10. Im in tasman and damien is well likd even though my particular area has the highest green vote. What is working here?
    The candidate is the main reason.
    Policy is okay and a good candidate can make the connections between policy and people.

    Main problem is gnat lies and greedy dairy farmers.

    • gsays 10.1

      I am in rangitikei electorate, an essentially safe Tory seat, Bruce Beetham being a notable exception.

      I have looked back through the list (thanks Wikipedia) and there is a new Labour candidate every election. Heather Warren,Deborah Russell, Josie Pagani, Jill Angus Burney.
      The % vote share has slowly shrunk from around 30% to 27% and change.

      So I agree with getting out there to all the meetings, A&P shows etc, but it is a long term plan if there are to be inroads here.

  11. Antoine 11

    I think it safe to say that you cannot reconcile getting the support of the farming sector, with making them clean up their act at their own expense. It’s one or other.

    (Of course the regions are much more than just farming!)

    A.

  12. Supporting free trade particularly for rural exports (despite the Canadians and Japanese) against global subsidies and protections.

    So, you’re saying that the government should encourage more damage to our environment just because a few people will get richer?

    Defend rural land from foreign buyers, just as they are intending to do.

    But then what will the capital gains farmers retire on?

    Their credibility with rural people will be enhanced by scaling back on more direct regulation and scaling up support for shrinking rural towns. Building up regional government with funding, and supporting rural roads through greater NZTA funding would help.

    It’s the lack of regulation that’s the problem as it allows the farmers to destroy the environment with no consequences.

    The only way to build up the regions is to turn them into cities and that means factories and universities. Building up the necessary infrastructure to make those cities high tech hubs.

    This would probably be good for our extraction and processing industry as all those factories are going to need the raw resources to make stuff like CPUs, motherboards, graphic cards etcetera.

    It’s not farms that will get the regions developed. Higher productivity on farms has always resulted in less people needed in the regions because there’s no more land and there’s limits to intensification.

    • Jimmy 12.1

      So the best way too stop farmers destroying the environment, is too turn farms into cities with factories and universities.
      Yeah it’s not like cities and factories are the epitome of human environmental destruction.
      And if you think farming is unregulated, think again.

      • So the best way too stop farmers destroying the environment, is too turn farms into cities with factories and universities.

        That’s not what I said.

        Due to productivity increases rural areas have a declining demand for people. To maintain that demand for people the regions have to increase services and that’s going to mean actually building cities with factories, universities and all the other infrastructure needed for a high-tech hub.

        The future of the regions is not farming. This is something that the regions simply don’t want to accept.

        Yeah it’s not like cities and factories are the epitome of human environmental destruction.

        They’re a hell of a lot better than present farming practices. They have to be else no one would be able to live in them.

        Actually, it’s now getting to the point where no one can live in the country because the farmers have poisoned it.

        And if you think farming is unregulated, think again.

        They’re poisoning our land without consequence. This screams that they’re not regulated enough.

        • Jimmy 12.1.1.1

          “Actually, it now getting to the point where no one can live in the country because the farmers have poisoned it”

          Unreal comment/opinion right there my man.

          I better tell all my country neighbours, they might get a laugh I guess.

          Maybe you should get out of the 50k zone sometime.

          • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1.1.1

            Unreal comment/opinion right there my man.

            Unreal?

            That’s what they’ve been doing for the last 150+ years.

            I better tell all my country neighbours, they might get a laugh I guess.

            That would make them as delusional as you. This is not a recommendation on their sanity.

            • Jimmy 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Which regional/rural area in NZ can people, plants or animals not live in?
              Due to 150 years plus of farming?

          • Foreign waka 12.1.1.1.2

            Jimmy, the capacity of rural NZ does not support the millions of cows, this is a fact. To say otherwise is being ignorant. Sorry o be so blunt.
            I do belief that a number of farmers have over capitalized and if they don’t stick with these unrealistic cattle numbers, they will go broke. This is where the real hook is.
            Perhaps, just perhaps Fonterra as a commercial entity is too big and has outgrown its usefulness for farmers to get any benefit and return? Just my impression – but if the CEO gets 8 mil, which is way more than the farmer hauling them selfs out if bed at 4 am, than something is seriously wrong. Don’t you think?
            So NZ is getting more and more cows on the paddock to get more millions to the CEO?
            And yes, the environment has and will further deteriorate and in the end the next generation has to be content with farmland that has become unusable and tourist will certainly not want to swim in a poo soup. Meanwhile, on the sunshine coast, with a martini in hand…..
            Good luck, I am really hoping that you guys can see things for what they are.

  13. Southern Man 13

    Labour targeting rural NZ will largely be a waste of time and resources. Farms and provincial towns are dominated directly and indirectly by rural conservatives who will continue to vote for National, even though it’s often against their best interests.

  14. Michael 14

    Why bother? More voters live in the cities than in the sticks so that’s where elections are won or lost these days. It’s not as though farmers have much economic power anymore; they’re all owned by corporations anyway. Let them grumble away (although it might be worth encouraging whatever progressives there are in rural areas).

    • Puckish Rogue 14.1

      The reason you bother is because you’re supposed to govern for all NZ not just those sectors that vote for you

      • Robert Guyton 14.1.1

        Yes, well, The Government will govern for the National Front members but that doesn’t mean doing as they demand. The best Government governs with The Greater Good in mind 🙂

        • Puckish Rogue 14.1.1.1

          Last time I checked the National Front endorsed NZFirst so the present government already has that covered 🙂

          But seriously do you really think ignoring the rural sector is the way to go for Labour?

          • Michael 14.1.1.1.1

            Yes, because the “rural sector” are economically and politically marginalised and it’s all their own doing. Labour needs to rebuild the trust of its base – non-rich city-dwellers.

            • Puckish Rogue 14.1.1.1.1.1

              Labours in power so it already has a level of trust, so now it can look to building bridges with the rural community

  15. Puckish Rogue 15

    I think a good, first step for the left would be to realise that the rural community is made up of individuals

    Like the left always seem to forget the whatever group they’re denigrating are made up of people, its always something like “all farmers vote National and hate the environment”, “the military just want to kill everyone”, “the police are just uniformed thugs”, “landlords are all rich pricks (exaggeration for effect)

    People with families that may have similarities but also many, many differences

    • Siobhan 15.1

      “all farmers vote National and hate the environment”…and similarly its funny how people talk as though the countryside is full of of farmers and orchardists…when in fact there are far more workers than landowners.

      When the Little and Ardern road show came to the Hawkes Bay there was not one single picker/packer in the room, and the talk was all about congratulating the Orchardists on their successes and philanthropic endeavours, and offering ways to further help their industry, including bringing in more RSE workers

      ….but its the LABOUR Party..shouldn’t the room have been full of pickers being told how they would benefit from their hard work, how it would no longer be acceptable to still be on the same bin rate as 25 years ago, how we shouldn’t be struggling with a devastating lack of housing in these areas….we sure as eggs shouldn’t have had to listen to our Labour Party bemoan the so called drop in productivity…

      The Labour Party needs to look at who actually lives rurally, not just at who holds the reigns of power, the Labour Party and rural dwellers are actually (should actually) be a perfect fit.

      • Grey Area 15.1.2

        “When the Little and Ardern road show came to the Hawkes Bay there was not one single picker/packer in the room, and the talk was all about congratulating the Orchardists on their successes and philanthropic endeavours, and offering ways to further help their industry, including bringing in more RSE workers”

        Was this the Little/Ardern meeting at the Clive Hall? Because Andrew Little was challenged there about the bin rate being unchanged for so long and how the rates paid for picking did not provide enough for locals to live on. It was about here and in response to another challenging question the wheels fell off as he basically talked (to me unconvincingly) about growing the pie so everyone got a slice.

    • I think a good, first step for the left would be to realise that the rural community is made up of individuals who are all authoritarian group-thinkers who follow National from a deep seated sense of being told to.

      FTFY

  16. patricia bremner 16

    Labour should learn from National’s mistakes. (National no mates)

    By allowing our natural partners to have a point of difference to attract voters we stay viable.

    What is needed is overarching values which resonate with all three parties which are the glue.

    People often rationalise after an event, giving acceptable reasons for their behaviour.

    “We didn’t vote for them, but we think it is ok they won” Given a reason they may support next time.

    Part of Jacinda’s kindness/empathy is finding common ground to begin the conversation.

    She has chosen children’s welfare.

    Other common points of common interest could be rural radio, internet, rail transport, health services, apprenticeships underpinned by Govt, green initiatives for insulation solar panels and wind farming and tree planting. Not forgetting Research and Development.

    We have to wax clever by improving lives and the environment and communication.

  17. swordfish 17

    5 problems, Ad

    (1) You seem to be conflating (or at least not clearly distinguishing between) Candidate & Party Votes

    (2) You seem to be conflating (or at least not clearly distinguishing between) quite large Provincial Cities, smaller Provincial Centres, minor service Towns & purely Rural-farmer areas

    (3) Farmers & Rural areas have always comprised the backbone of National support – Blue as a New Tattoo … Hell, I mean Bill Massey established his Reform Party specifically as an electoral vehicle for Dairy Farmers

    (4) Provincial Cities, smaller Centres, minor Towns are another matter – but, as Sanc & others have already suggested, NZ First is shaping up to be Labour’s (morally conservative) Provincial arm. Provincial Cities -yes – but smaller towns shouldn’t be a priority.

    (5) Labour needs to focus first & foremost on making major in-roads within your neck of the woods = esp West Auckland

    • swordfish 17.1

      Problem Number 6
      (already touched on by Psycho Milt)

      (6) We’re talking about a relatively small number of Voters in Rural & Small Town NZ

      Aim all those precious campaign resources at that big old recalcitrant Carbuncle in the North

    • Fred H 17.2

      Too true, the following provincial cities are blue: Hamilton(both sides), Tauranga, Nelson, Rotorua, Whangarei, Hastings, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Invercargill, Oamaru and Timaru. Going after the small businesses, working voter, students, unemployed and retired there with practical infrastructure, r&d funding and decent social services would obliterate the Nat vote without having to kneel to the dairy gods…

      • DS 17.2.1

        Oamaru and Invercargill are red cities surrounded by ultra-violet farmland. The Invercargill electorate is only winnable if Labour is winning the party vote nationwide, and Waitaki is only winnable if Labour is winning the party vote nationwide by double digits.

        Timaru is currently gerrymandered. It also didn’t help a few years back that the Labour candidate was an anti-semitic loony (and the only other options on the ballot paper were National, ACT, and Conservative).

        Tauranga and Whangarei are safe Nat (not having been won by Labour since 1935 and 1972 respectively), but Hastings, New Plymouth, and Whanganui were held by Labour in Opposition (as was Invercargill) from 1993 to 1999.

  18. Keepcalmcarryon 18

    Incentivize the move from larger intensive dairy herds with mass produced lower value product, to smaller herds with localized value ad production – niche local butter cheese employing locals etc with government help to move back to local co-ops , small factory set ups and more government help marketing overseas.
    This makes dairy more environmentally sustainable and returns jobs to the regions.

  19. Labour needs to organize the dairy workers and get them helping the farming people among them. We certainly need to make sure farm workers are given a fair deal. Because farm workers also vote and they need to understand that their working conditions would be improved by having a Labour Government.Labour certainly need included farmers and farm workers in their policies.

  20. Sparky 20

    That’s easy pass the TPP11 and all the cockies will LOVE them……

    Of course that said that seat is taken by National so poor old Labour could still be out of luck…….

    Hmmm maybe they should be more concerned about keeping left leaning middle and working class voters…..?

  21. mac1 21

    People need to realise that in rural electorates there are still large numbers of workers, professionals, teachers, who vote Labour.

    Some years ago I stood in a rural seat. The electorate was divided into two geographical areas.The larger area I won by some 400 votes on election night, but the smaller and more rural southern area voted traditionally and so I lost. The larger area had been severely affected by electricity ‘reforms’ under Max Bradford and voted accordingly. Some 3000 voters stayed away altogether.

    The government of the time was also suffering from third-termitis. The Green vote was double the winner’s majority. That Green candidate was a farmer.

    The point of this is to show that local issues can be massive in rural areas, and that vote levels do fluctuate. Also, even if the Tory candidate gets re-elected, the party vote, the more important one, is still paramount. Labour voters in two electorates like mine will elect one list MP.

    Parties of the Left can also cooperate more with strategic voting to get rural MPs elected. Coromandel is an example.

    Strong candidates, and organisations, can also help keep Labour presence and message high.

    Labour can also look to ensuring more rurally focussed list MPs. That would require a change in thinking and practice, but is possible.

    Strong action on local issues would help. For example, can we have our community owned electrical generation back?

    In my electorate there are thousands of workers who are not NZ voters but are guest workers. The more that such labourers are Kiwi voters, the more Labour votes and also greater the union presence with its message.

    All of this can help Labour and rural voters.

  22. Robert Guyton 22

    Farmers are tribal Nats, by and large and tribesmen and women stay loyal to the tribe, no matter what. Labour can work with tribal Nats, but never get their votes, imo.

  23. Ian 23

    Dream on folks. The lefts hate campaign against farmers this century has left a scar that will take generations to fade. I read all the bile and misinformation and are now resigned to being under attack from misinformed,envious socialists.
    Cindy has brought it on and I now know what we are up against.
    A left wing Government is not good for NZ,let alone rural NZ. Christmas is coming and I can’t wait for the turkeys to start wailing when they realised they voted for it .

    • Sam aka clump 23.1

      It’s disingenuous to label “the lefts hate campaign” as such. When Labour hold all of the Māori seats. Working with, instead of against might heal the rift.

    • Keepcalmcarryon 23.2

      Nailed it Ian, being petulant and childish is the way forward.
      It’s worked a treat for the Feds and dairy NZ so far.

      • Ian 23.2.1

        I am over it to be honest. I play by the rules,pay my taxes and live a good life.I avoid anyone associated with Fish and game,the labour party ,greenpeace and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
        I have friends in the green party and we laugh alot over the issues of the day.
        Do you have any understanding of how dairy NZ has evolved,how they are governed and what they do ?
        Where is winston the whore ?

        • Keepcalmcarryon 23.2.1.1

          Some of my best friends are farmers

        • One Anonymous Bloke 23.2.1.2

          Not quite over it then.

          The sky is going to fall on your head any day now. Just after Nibiru.

          • Ian 23.2.1.2.1

            comet jacinda looks like dust and hot air. She will have whooshed thru before you can say ” The Honourable Winston Peters “

            • Sam aka clump 23.2.1.2.1.1

              Farmers say it’s to hard. You are pushing us to hard. I can kind of understand what happened. The last government incentivised dairy intensification. Now New Zealand has 3 million to many diary cows. Shame really now that butchery as a career has largely disappeared. I mean honestly Ian. What are you angry about? And what can we do about it?

  24. Tamati Tautuhi 24

    Labour/NZF/Greens need to demonstrate to the NZ Public that they can function as a decisive and proactive MMP Government otherwise they will not last long and people will gravitate back to the main parties ?

  25. Gavin 25

    I like your turn of phrase towards the end, Ad.

    There are some provincial townships where the ideal end of a night on the town is a regular bare-knuckle fight outside a local pub, a sort of a fight club with other ex-patrons watching. They make their own entertainment. Yes, they work hard, and they play hard too. Most urban dwellers won’t recognise this behaviour.

    Can Labour make inroads in the blue seats? You’re right about the amount of effort it will take, several years of work by many members, it won’t be easy. At the moment the feedback from the provinces is that Labour will overspend, and the whole economy will be stuffed in short order.

    Of course Labour will probably be able to grow the economy, and not superficially, just like last time, so the tax take increase will be pretty phenomenal. I think we’ll be OK.

  26. CHCOff 26

    Economically, the rural sectors and associated primary industries being given options to move away from the speculative pricing and interest rates dominated model of supply and demand, thus safe guarding them from the agri. business model taking over.

    Components of that would be govt. framework of a guaranteed stable local market (that being NZ) for it’s products that allows such industries to have high standards in how they conduct their livelihoods and the quality of their product – thus enabling the primary sector to see itself in a partnership with the urban centres as more of a mutually beneficial state of affairs to uphold.

    Secondly setting up a framework where their own independent associations of their own choosing are enabled to use the apparatus of the state on an international level for the excess remaining from the local market systems to making trade deals directly either via other international states or trading associations within those states.

    An updated approach of economic integration that has worked very beneficially for all in other periods of civilisation generally speaking then. !

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