Labour politician walks out of Manawatū farmer water forum after being 'physically pushed'

Labour candidate for Palmerston North Iain Lees-Galloway left a farmer meeting about irrigation tax early.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Labour candidate for Palmerston North Iain Lees-Galloway left a farmer meeting about irrigation tax early.

Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway has walked out of a farmer meeting in Manawatū after he was "physically pushed" and his van struck by another vehicle.

Lees-Galloway said it was a hostile meeting from the beginning, when the chairman Brad Burling asked if Labour's David Parker should cover the party's water tax policy, "or should I just rip into you".

He said a farmer came to the front soon after the meeting started and talked into his phone to Labour's spokesman for water, Parker, who was unable to attend the meeting on Wednesday.

"I asked him to leave the front of the room and I was physically pushed," Lees-Galloway said.

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Lees-Galloway said he took Parker's advice and departed the Ōroua Downs community hall as he was not going to put up with abuse.

Another incident followed after  the Palmerston North MP left the hall.

"When I was leaving in my van, a person made eye contact, and collided with me."

He said the driver knew what he was doing, and the van was damaged.

"I didn't feel safe and did not feel it was a productive meeting. I will not tolerate being physically abused."

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Lees-Galloway said he reported the incidents to the police, but had chosen not to press charges.

One person apologised for the way he was treated, he said.

Federated Farmers national vice-president Andrew Hoggard, who attended the meeting, said one farmer made an inflammatory statement.

He said Lees-Galloway left after 10 minutes of the meeting, which was due to go for about an hour.

Hoggard said there was talk about water quality before the meeting ended abruptly.

"But the people who are irrigating are not causing the problem in the waterways, so they shouldn't have to pay. Water quality is not linked to irrigation at all."

He said there was one "grumpy" person during the meeting who made the statement about Labour's proposed water tax.

"And the other 54 people told him to sit down, but Iain Lees-Galloway stormed out and took his phone [which had provided the link to Parker] with him.  So we lost both politicians."

Hoggard said many farmers had travelled a long way to attend the meeting and were disappointed it ended early.

 - Stuff

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