Opposition Leader Simon Bridges has called for a political ceasefire over Mycoplasma bovis, saying he doesn't want to make the matter a “political football.”
His comments come after both National and Labour MPs have been using the issue for exactly that purpose for weeks.
“I think the reality is that sometimes bad things like this do happen and it’s how you deal with it afterward,” Bridges says.
“Whether it’s National or Labour, what’s important now is we don’t politic on it, we don’t play the blame game and we get in and we try and solve it.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended a meeting with farming representatives and the Ministry of Primary Industries on Tuesday morning.
“The message is we are working together on this issue,” she says.
She says by next week the Government will come to a decision around how M bovis will be managed going forward.
The Government has committed $85 million to the frontline response, but Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has estimated the cost of eradicating the disease could be up to $1 billion.
The disease has been a hot button topic at Question Time over the last few weeks.
Earlier this month, Bridges asked Ardern what impact M bovis would have on business confidence.
“When it comes to the issue of Mycoplasma bovis, we would not be having this debate if that last Government funded biosecurity properly. We're cleaning up the mess that Government left,” she said.
On May 2, National's Biosecurity spokesman Nathan Guy used the disease in an attempt to score a political point.
“Why is the coalition Government prioritising free tertiary education instead of appropriately funding M bovis response costs that impact the New Zealand economy and rural communities?”
On behalf of the Minister of Biosecurity, Labour’s Stuart Nash said he rejected the proposition behind the question.
After Guy asked if O’Connor stood by all his statements regarding M bovis for the second day in a row, O’Connor attacked the record of the previous Government.
“Yes, and, in particular, I stand by my statement of the shameful inaction of that member to develop an animal tracing system that works, because National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) has let us down immensely through the whole Mycoplasma bovis response.”
Speaking to media this morning, Bridges said this issue of M bovis has come up at least half of the public meetings he has been running over the last month.
“Farmers have been clear to me, Nathan Guy and other farming MPs they want us to be constructive – they don’t want to see us politicking.
“They want to see a very much solution orientated approach. We’re taking that quite seriously.”