Days to the General Election: 38
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Guy Trafford considers the options that farmers have at the upcoming election, given that National seems damaged, NZ First seem unreliable, and Labour and the Greens seem either uninterested or downright antagonistic

Guy Trafford considers the options that farmers have at the upcoming election, given that National seems damaged, NZ First seem unreliable, and Labour and the Greens seem either uninterested or downright antagonistic

Given the traditional support the rural sector has provided to National it would feel remiss not to make some comment on the recent events that have afflicted the National Party.

I was brought up in a household and community where it was assumed everybody would vote National, and if at election time it was revealed in the local rag that some-one had voted for another party, then a minor witch hunt would ensue. No harm was ever done, much, but it did colour how some folk viewed their neighbours.

Things got a bit more blurred when the likes of the Values Party emerged and sons and daughters started coming home from universities and the like, and later the Bob Jones Party created even more confusion.

However, through it all National remained head and shoulders ahead of the pack, a situation which largely still exists to this day.

So, with this background there will be a lot of ‘turning in graves’ over the events which are starting to resemble an airport departure lounge within the National Party. The number of MPs that have left (and some returned) must be a matter of concern. My view was that when Todd Muller and Nicky Kaye were selected it looked like National might have a chance of contesting the next election as they appeared more centrist and may regain some of the ‘middle ground’ which both Labour and National rely upon if they wish to govern.

The selection of Judith Collins supported by Gerry Brownlie, while arguably the obvious choice given the short time frames leading up to the election, seems a move back to the right.

This will appease many of the more hard-core National supporters and may prevent any slippage to ACT, however, it is not, in my view, going to win them the election. Both Collins and Brownlie come in with baggage that has resulted in divisions in the past and this will still cloud many would be voters’ views going forward.

One good thing that will come from the new leadership is that the current government will be held to greater account.

This is good no matter from what side of the spectrum you are, as to achieve good government you need good opposition. Judith Collins in particular, love her or not, does command respect as a formidable adversary. The issue going forward to the elections for farming is, assuming you are a rational being, which party do you vote for?

With a little bit of tongue in cheek it has been suggested that the New Zealand First party may become the home for the farming sector (I can feel some shivering from here). But there is a logic of sorts. It can almost be assumed that Labour will get the largest number of votes in the upcoming election. This is where the crystal ball needs to be polished, will they be able to govern alone or with ‘just’ the Greens; or, will they need New Zealand First to make up the numbers. If National are going to make a viable challenge it is likely they will also need the support of New Zealand First.

Those in the farming sector who wish to avoid a Labour-Green coalition then need to decide do they back National and hope or back New Zealand First and (still) hope the Collins and Peters can come to some agreement to work together. Shane Jones has been sharing the love with the regions and may have gained enough kudos to get the support required to get their numbers up, and conversely the Greens have been missing in action among all the noise of COVID-19. It is unlikely in any event (left field events notwithstanding, and the last election when the Labour coalition came in against the run of play leading up to the elections did show these can occur) that National will be in any shape to govern alone and will need New Zealand First.

The concern is with this scenario is that can New Zealand First be relied upon to go with National. I would suggest not. Which then leads me back to unless farmers change colours in mass and decide to back Labour, if they want representation in the Government then New Zealand First is the most likely place to find it and hope enough voters don’t do a wholesale vote for Labour so they don’t need partners.

At the moment there is daylight in the polls between Labour and National but this is bound to closeup as the election draws closer.

Likewise, New Zealand First and the Greens are lagging at the moment, but they also will lift nearer the elections, likely at the expense of Labour. ACT are not really relevant to this discussion except will be hoping that their ‘sweetheart’ deal with National over Epsom remains and in reality are a minor (but important) splinter group of National.

The major reason farmers have been nervous of the Labour/Green coalition is the threat of greater regulations around the environment. While we cannot predict too much forward, most of the regulations likely to be imposed are already in place and from what National has said, even Collins has indicated, they are unlikely to be unwound.

So, the reality is that there may not be as much difference in that area as may have been the case in previous elections.

This fact is also likely to reduce the impact of the Greens on any future government. So, the differences then are more likely to be around the handling of the economy and how the country deals with the COVID-19 induced recession, and debt, and the handling of the borders. Neither major party has been particularly forthcoming to date over these.

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Interestingly, Jim Bolger is being reported everywhere on the issue of tax - and how either National or Labour or both need to come out with plans to increase the tax take;

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger says the National Party needs to choose a new leader who is bold enough to talk publicly about tax increases and New Zealand's post-Covid economic future.

Judith Collins was specifically asked about this by Kathryn Ryan on 9 to Noon this morning.

She replied by saying that as long as she was prime minister, there would not be a tax on wealth, assets or a death duty.

She also seemed to suggest that it was likely that mix of taxes would need to change so as to widen the tax base, but that no individual would pay more tax as a result.

Hmm. How do you widen the tax base by changing the existing mix while ensuring no one pays more tax. It's total mumbo jumbo, which is always more of a worry than coming straight out with your intentions.

Another tax-switch GST rise on the cards?

Judith just wants to run on the same bugbear / platform that National always does - tax cuts. But in this case she can't realistically promise tax cuts, so instead she wants to say that Labour will increase taxes but National won't.

She repeatedly suggested that the way to deal with the debt created by COVID is to grow the economy at 3.5-4% per year instead of 1.5-2.5%. Kathryn challenged her on to how that was actually possible and what would she do to ensure it happened and her (very lame) response well "well tell me what the government's plan is".

Basically she wants to say no tax increases under National but we'll also pay off the debt, and worry about the details later.

Very astute observation on your part. It would seem that National are bereft of any ideas to do things differently from what Labour has done. It is also interesting that National's "best mates" (Liberal: Australia) have done more or less the same as our government economically. In addition, National have presented no policies to address how the economy will grow or how tax can be restructured to reduce the debt. National has become moribund and Collins/Brownlee are a perfect example of that. They present nothing that deserves my party vote.

Taxation of land/capital/assets is fringe extremism that has no place in New Zealand. A very vocal minority like to promote this stuff as if it has a chance of happening, but to the vast majority of New Zealanders, including those on the left, the idea (if it ever crossed their mind in the first place) is totally bizarre and unacceptable. No party that proposes this will be successful. Even CGT, which is actually a fairly conventional tax on realised income, was politically unpopular.

Here s/he goes again. Spouting personal nonsense as if it were fact. I'm sure ordinary working people feel the same about income tax. The fact is, nobody likes tax but we need it so society can function. The three principal provisos of tax are: it should be fair, easy to understand, easy to administer. If one takes a broad view (which you obviously don't) taxes on land/capital/assets sometimes meet those criteria.

Fair to tax a cash-poor retiree for the privilege of living in their home even though they are earning no income from it and purchased it when it was worth far less and had no idea it would become a massive tax liability? Fair to charge a farmer tax for their land and machinery even in years they earn no income due to drought? Fair to charge someone each and every year for an asset even though they paid tax on the income that they used to purchase it and then paid GST when they purchased it? Easy to administer a yearly audit of the value of every major asset that every individual owns?

Sounds like you’re the one spouting nonsense.

Oh boy, that got the kettle boiling! No-one is proposing to tax a "cash-poor retiree" out of their home. There are no bailiffs or rottweiler dogs in this story. But the fact is a property owner makes (over time) an unearned increase in the value of their land, and they get to pocket that increase (usually tax free) when they sell. Everybody knows this. It's not a new concept. All that is being suggested is that if someone can toil & sweat for 40 hours a week and have to pay tax on whatever they earn, then why can't someone who does nothing and receives money through an increased land value. Again, this is nothing new..... it already happens (largely) through council rates. So stop trying to pretend it's such a big drama. Also, a "retiree" property owner always has the choice to sell/cash up and move on if they desire. A factory worker has NO choice when it comes to their wages and income tax. When it comes to farming, you are obviously not an accountant who understands the "Income Equalisation Scheme". Rather than rant & rave you may wish to take a moment to read the IRD website. In summary, you are full of exaggerations in your arguments whilst lacking any substantive proposals for a fair and easy tax system. It is a common trait among people who are jaundiced by their vested interests.

Sounds like you don't even know the difference between capital gains tax and land value tax.

I'm sure the retirees slapped with an unaffordable tax bill that is totally disconnected to their income will be perfectly happy when the likes of you envious simpletons tell them that they simply need to "move on" (i.e. sell their home) to avoid paying rent for their own property.

Please hold your breath for this tax to come in. I'm not talking about CGT, but even that was a non-starter - you're special if you think CGT on steroids has a snowball's chance.

As usual, nicely dodging the core of the discussion because it doesn't support your narrative. Thankfully you're a lone wolf.

farmers will always vote blue, just like union people will always vote red.
it is heritage and is hammered into them from a young age

much like the aliens always vote Green.

What unions? I thought they were removed as with pay rises long ago?

Public sector unions mostly have kept the pay raises flowing.

It is amusing to hear peoples views on assumed voting culture. I have never been encouraged to vote one way or the other. Nor have I witnessed this behaviour taking place. To assuming that farmers have "voting blue drummed into them" is nonsense in my view. I would like to think this is not the case in NZ full stop. Maybe my head is in the sand?!

I thought I read somewhere that only 50% of farmers voted National . Surprising , i admit , but it was a reliable report.
I would also surprise people by saying A Green party should be many Famers best choice. As noted , the future doesn't look good under either major party. Most farmers accept changes to protect the environment need to be made.Its sad to me that the current Green party does not (or does not appear to ) offer farmers a vison going forward, albeit a compromised one .

"The major reason farmers have been nervous of the Labour/Green coalition is the threat of greater regulations around the environment".

Shows how stupid thinking can be, If you can call it thinking.

Those who defend the ecology we all, ultimately, live or die by, are slowing the rate at which we approach the point of collapse. They cannot stave it off, but they were giving us time to get educated and take our foot off the pedal.

But we didn't get educated. We went to the point - and Collins and Brownlee are absolutely guilty here - of removing democracy to get at a resource (water/Canty). We are too late now; anyone looking at the big picture will tell you we are well into a period of consequences.

Worth watching the lot, Guy.

At some point National will benefit from a massive swing to the right amongst younger voters. People below the age of forty do not listen to the propaganda on traditional media. Many feel the left's adoption of nanny state and violent coercion to cultural nonsense is repulsive. In hard times people start looking for someone to blame. The politics of polarisation forces everyone to take sides. It seems that either you must subscribe to the new cultural nonsense or you must oppose it. Stormy times ahead, 1970s style.

You obviously have not talked to any younger voters lately have you Roger? They want a brand new system - the old one is past its used by date and time to face up to the fact end of the end of the road is approaching. Eating more cheeseburgers and coke and watching netflix is not a strategy.

Frazz - agreed. There are a lot of folk who think in terms of the 1970's, but the world is a very different place. Lots of youngsters aren't bothering getting their Licences - not like our echelon. Many say there's no point. Many are travelling picking up food-growing and other real skills. I wonder where RW meets them, whether it makes his take selective?

Young Nats meetings?

Have you not noticed what is going on internationally? Nationalism has had a resurgence in Russia, Turkey, Brazil, India, Hungary, USA and Britain. People want well paid jobs. They want to be able to afford to get married, have kids, own a house. They are fed up of promises from people who cannot deliver. They reject globalism and they reject immigration from dissimilar cultures. New Zealand is just a bit behind the times.

It is not pretty, but it is exactly as Hayek predicted. When things fall apart people choose a strong leader who will "get things done". Hopefully we can adapt to the change in a peaceful civilised way, but the forces stirring us up against each other are strong, it seems.

Talking to my 20s year old kids and their friends this week all together supporting Queenstown (Courtesy of the Dads Credit Card it seemed !! ) I asked them what they thought. Jacinda - young, empathy liked but not 100% on the economics. Greens - like environmental stuff don't like wealth tax - they all like James Shaw. Winston - not there cup of tea (or beer!!). National - old, boring, yawn. Act - David Seymour is well liked as much as James Shaw.

You must really listen to frazz . He ( and Greta ) speak for 99% of young people.
Oh - wait , that has been done before ...

Why farmers have voted blindly for National over the past 20 that I have been a primary producer is beyond my comprehension. I have absolutely NO political affiliation, but National has done bugger all to support our sector. They deserted farming years ago..... chasing donations from the big end of town. Don't get me wrong, they're great friends with the board of directors at Fonterra, Zespri, and the like, but in terms of actually working for the productive, down on the farm sector of the backbone of our economy, National are nowhere to be seen.... policy-wise or otherwise. Like labour unions the farming sector has become disparate & fractious, and until we learn to get our act together and act in unity National will continue to act with impunity and nothing but their own interests at heart. Farmers need to be more engaging with ALL political parties. But politics is a competitive market and we need to be far more discerning on who we give our support to.

"National only listen to the members when they need them" as one National party member explained to me.

Spot on! That's EXACTLY how they've treated the farming community.

I've never been a National voter, well there was the one time I wasted my very first vote voting for Ruth Richardson, I still cringe at the thought.
My vote will as always be strategic (wasted). This year my first strategy is to vote to keep National out, hate, hate ,hate, loath entirely.

I also want to keep National out. Have voted for them in the past. Problem is I don't want Labour or Labour/Greens either. That leaves Winston First who I also don't want although I did last election so either not going to vote or waste on someone who doesn't have a dogs chance of getting in. I'm sure there are a few like me.

For pretty much the same reasons I am seriously considering voting Maori Party, from the General Roll.

Interesting musings. Had a few farmers I work with the other day say that they have just realized the current lot are giving them more money that National ever did to help change re water etc etc. You can work out what they were thinking of doing this election. Im sure I saw some numbers at the last election where provincial voters actually were more labour/green than the urban vote which was more blue - I might be wrong but remember being quite surprised.
I see Burger King in the USA are moving on Climate Change along with Macas.
This is the market of the future whether we like it or not.
Just read a good book by Robert Iger who runs Disney - its a great read and insightful into the key principals he has used to grow the business. One of the keys is you have to accept and plan for change and radically at times. If you don't embrace this you are dead. You also have to be honest, have integrity and ethics and treat people with respect.
This is the key attributes I will be looking for in the coming election. Doing the same and resisting change is a road to oblivion as the world changes even faster in the future.

Jack - out of curiosity - were the farmers singing the praises of current government $ lolly scramble, in the main, non dairy?

I wouldn’t say singing the praises from the rooftops just a realisation. All sheep and beef hill country farmers.

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Days to the General Election: 38
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.