Labour leader attempts to ease farmers concerns ahead of protest

Jacinda Ardern enforced her message that the party wants to "restore New Zealand's clean, green image" should they be in ...
DAVID WHITE/STUFF

Jacinda Ardern enforced her message that the party wants to "restore New Zealand's clean, green image" should they be in government next week, but wants it to be an effort made by everyone.

Jacinda Ardern attempted to douse the fire before Monday's major farmer protest in her hometown of Morrinsville. 

The farmers' protest is planned over Labour's proposed water royalty. 

Ardern tried to ease the farmers concerns during Sunday's packed Labour Party rally in Hamilton. 

The 7m high giant cow will provide the backdrop for a rally in support of farmers in Morrinsville on Monday.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

The 7m high giant cow will provide the backdrop for a rally in support of farmers in Morrinsville on Monday.

The Labour leader enforced her message that the party wants to "restore New Zealand's clean, green image" should they be in government next week, but wants it to be an effort made by everyone. 

READ MORE:
*Farmers to protest in Jacinda Ardern's hometown of Morrinsville
*Labour water tax to be $100m a year for irrigators
*Labour's water tax plan doesn't go far enough: Economists
*Labour confirms it will charge farmers for irrigation water

"I think all New Zealanders are united in a single goal that we do clean up our waterways and we restore our clean, green image that's what unites us and I would like to see all of us doing our bit," Ardern said. 

Should they win Saturday's general election, Labour wants to install the Clean Water for Future Generations policy which seeks to charge large commercial users of water, with the royalties funnelled into river cleanups.

Labour said that it would put a royalty on water use for bottling companies and farmers using irrigation.

The revenue from the fees would mainly go to regional councils to be used to clean up the country's waterways, and some would go to Maoridom to meet Treaty settlements.

"All along I have said that I absolutely believe that issues around water quality are issues we should work on together but I also want to highlight the vast majority of farmers aren't affected by what we propose.

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"In fact, there are 12,000 farms in New Zealand and only two thousand will be affected by what we are proposing," Ardern said when questioned after the Hamilton rally. 

Irrigation New Zealand said later that Ardern had the number of farms incorrect and that there is in fact more than 58,000 farms in New Zealand not 12,000  and 10,500 with irrigation - not 2000.

"Our rivers are dying, 60 per cent of our monitored waterways aren't swimmable and you don't have to look far to realise how true that is large stretches of water in the Waikato are no longer swimmable I just don't accept that this is the way things are now. 

"Our water is a taonga and we have a duty to protect it. That is why we are working in partnership with Maori and local government to clean up our rivers."

Last week Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president  Andrew McGiven said that farmers were tired of being made a scapegoat by politicians looking to score political points in the leadup to the election.

Farmers plan to protest on Monday underneath the large cow in Morrinsville, the hometown of Ardern. 

The protest was being organised by McGiven and Morrinsville farmer Lloyd Downing.

Ardern attempted to resonate with the farming community by highlighting her rural upbringing. 

"I grew up on a plot of land that was first an orchard ....the first thing I ever drove was a large red Massey Ferguson, the first thing I ever crashed was a large red Massey Ferguson, straight into a nashi tree, into another nashi tree and into my father - he was fine, I promise."

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 - Stuff

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