IN JUST a few days the 2014 election campaign will be over and then will start the process of forming a new government. Depending on which parties get what number of votes this could be a simple or a drawn-out process.
This has been the most bizarre election campaign in 50 years, memorable for lacking serious debate on issues of real importance to New Zealanders. Instead, day after day, our television screens and newspapers have been full of the latest silly little scandals, while issues of substance were ignored.
Hopes were for true debate on serious issues such as science funding for agriculture, for meaningful rather than trivial debate on environmental issues, and for voters to get good information on which to base their decision on election day.
For farmers there are some choices: to live with National’s essentially status quo model with some minor changes around the fringes. Labour’s capital gains tax has implications for the sector and could be a match winner or loser. The Greens predictably have never deviated from their stance to impose more restrictions and costs on farmers. For them the cow is the cause of the problem, not the saviour of the economy.
In the past, the differences between National and Labour from a farmer’s perspective have been minor. But Labour cuddling up to the Greens represents a complete paradigm shift and has rightly or wrongly made many people in the agribusiness sector nervous. It’s also fair to say that over the years, agriculture’s power base has declined as New Zealand becomes a much more urbanised society and the general understanding of farming in the cities has diminished.
Whichever parties get into power, it’s important they don’t erect unnecessary and unrealistic roadblocks in the way of agriculture. While things might not be perfect now, there is huge potential for things to get a lot worse. It’s hard enough for farmers to battle the vagaries and volatility of global markets without having to battle their own political masters to make a crust and keep the New Zealand economy viable and vibrant.