Because of Covid-19, the NZIAHS cancelled the Political Forum at Lincoln University early this month. Key politicians had been invited to the forum to inform our members of their party policies relevant to our science and to be questioned.
Instead, we put three questions to the politicians for written replies for publication before the general election next month.
Here’s the second of the three questions and the responses we received.
- COVID-19 has revealed primary production is critically important to the NZ economy – but why is the Minister/Spokesperson typically lowly ranked within your caucus?
Damien O’Connor – Labour Party
Irrespective of COVID-19, the Primary Industries have and will continue to be critical to the development of New Zealand at both a domestic and international level. COVID-19, has however, potentially highlighted, aspects of life that living in a first world country are often taken for granted.
Whilst, I appreciate the sentiment. I don’t consider myself to be in a lowly ranked position. Each Ministerial portfolio is important. The position of the Minister in regard to that portfolio, is not determinative of a lack of care, respect, or appreciation from the sitting government. Rather it reflects that we have many competent Ministers, who regardless of where they sit on a list, are capable and willing to put in the hard yards in for the portfolios they are responsible for.
David Bennett – National Party
The primary sector has been critically important to the New Zealand since well before Covid-19 came along and National has always recognised its significance. As the Agriculture spokesperson I am proud to have a place on National’s front bench, and in Government National’s Agriculture Minister has always been placed on the front bench.
Eugenie Sage – Green Party
As the Green Party’s agriculture portfolio I am the fourth-ranked MP in the Green Party caucus. This is higher than any of the other major parties’ agriculture spokespeople (Labour #12, National #11, NZF #8). Our primary sector has always been hugely important to the Green Party. The Green Party envisions a strong, healthy and diverse agricultural sector that is an important part of an economically viable and environmentally sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand. We will be announcing our full agriculture policy before the election. Key points are here https://www.greens.org.nz/agriculture_and_food_production_2020