Opinion: Govt needs to deliver support

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Let’s not get “hysterical” now.

It seems there’s never a dull day in politics!

You may have heard I had a rather interesting dialogue with deputy Labour leader and Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis last week.

During a select committee, Mr Davis called me “hysterical” when I asked whether tourism jobs would be impacted by increasing costs for small business.

I have been in this role for some time now, I have thick skin but what I don’t appreciate is the demeaning sexism of the comment. I was shocked that a person in his role had lowered himself to such a level, and while I was dumbfounded momentarily, I have moved on following his apology.

Petty comments aside, what I’m more concerned about is the fact that the minister became so aggressive when asked direct but reasonable questions about government spending in the tourism sector.

Being a popular visitor destination, we now need answers as to just how much they will be spending on freedom camping, infrastructure and even road safety in the region.

During the election the Labour party promised the world, and now it’s time to deliver.

While it’s only just begun, there is no doubt winter is officially upon us. And while my electorate sparkles this time of year, the drop in temperature also drives home some harsh realities for Waitaki and South Canterbury farmers still firmly in the grip of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak which is now not only an animal welfare issue but a human welfare issue.

Please take a moment to put yourselves in the shoes of a farming couple I spoke with in Fairlie who were left facing an impossible decision after their stock came under the MPI spotlight in April.

With animals still being tested on the bull beef property, the pair were unable to sell more than 900 calves as planned in May, leaving them with too much stock on farm and not enough feed, through no fault of their own.

The calves are worth $650 each, the only suggestion from MPI was to sell the calves to the works where they would receive $250 each at best, resulting in a massive hit on anyone’s books.

The only other option was to sell off the larger animals on farm to the works, which would result in a $192,000 loss, and no income for a further 18 months.

Since the government decision to attempt to eradicate this disease, they’ve assured farmers they would do all they can to support them through these trying times. However, I fear, like this one, there have been exceptions.

The couple took their desperate situation to the Rural Support Trust and Assure Quality who in turn contacted MPI for help. MPI declined any support, even after the couple pleaded with them to review their decision.

MPI stated that the couple should have continued their plan to sell their calves in May, as no-one would have been aware testing was being carried out on the farm.

With yards near a main road this was an impossibility, and in my view this unbelievable suggestion not only defeats the purpose of the entire operation but shows a certain disrespect for the entire farming community.

My heart goes out to this couple and others facing the same challenges right now. I will continue to do my best to fight for you.