'I don't know why she'd say such foolish statements': Collins hits back at farming policy criticism

Author
Amelia Wade, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 24 Sep 2020, 8:28PM
National leader Judith Collins with East Coast candidate Tania Tapsell (left) and agriculture spokesman David Bennett. Photo / Amelia Wade
National leader Judith Collins with East Coast candidate Tania Tapsell (left) and agriculture spokesman David Bennett. Photo / Amelia Wade

'I don't know why she'd say such foolish statements': Collins hits back at farming policy criticism

Author
Amelia Wade, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 24 Sep 2020, 8:28PM

National leader Judith Collins is hitting back at attacks from the left on her agriculture policy, saying the Greens are being "hysterical".

And she is accusing Labour leader Jacinda Ardern of "going for the jugular" by saying the National Party had changed its position on climate change.

"We've been very clear around the Zero Carbon legislation that we wanted changes to that," Collins said.

"We've said that we'd do that, so there's no change at all."

Collins unveiled National's agriculture policy standing in long grass on a stud farm in Gisborne and promised to undo "the stupider stuff" the Labour-led Government had passed relating to the farming sector.

In her crosshairs were nine recent freshwater reforms which she pledged to review or replace, shifting the place of agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme and seven changes to the Zero Carbon Act.

The changes would include reviewing both the methane target and the use of the level of forestry offset to achieve climate-change targets. Their policy does not suggest it would repeal the Act or all the freshwater reforms.

But the Labour leader called the policy "backwards looking" - Ardern said it was "hugely disappointing" the National Party had changed their position on climate change.

Collins called this "misinformation" because while National had voted for the Zero Carbon Act, it had always been committed to making changes if it earned the right to govern.

"I don't why she'd do that and say such foolish statements," Collins told the Herald.

"What has changed is that she's now going for the jugular."

And she said the Greens were living in a "fool's paradise" for saying National's policy showed the party was "dangerous and doesn't care about our planet or our grandchildren".

"National wants future generations to inherit a decimated environment and an unstable climate, for the sake of winning a few votes," said co-leader James Shaw.

"Climate action and environmental protection go above politics, but that's clearly not something National is willing to accept."

Collins responded: "They're just hysterical, frankly."

She even got a bit emotional when she heard the Greens' statement in a press conference and said, with voice breaking, "It was hard to find anything nice to say about that."

"They're not actually green about the environment, they're green with envy."

Collins spent the day in Gisborne visiting an early childhood education centre, a freight company and dodging cowpats at a stud farm.

Making the most of being in alert level 1, she shook many hands from well-wishers - many of whom complimented her on her "performance" during TVNZ's debate on Monday.

A number of people said they'd really benefited from the Provincial Growth Fund and asked her what National would replace it with.

Speaking to farmers who'd come to watch the agriculture policy announcement, Collins again got emotional talking about farmers after getting misty-eyed at a public meeting in Matamata the day before.

The National leader said it got her "teary" because she grew up on a farm, she empathised with farmers who she said were "feeling almost heartbroken".

"They're feeling almost apologetic about their work. I look at them and think it's so unfair, it's not something that should happen.

"There's a very nasty line that's come through in the last couple of decades of the chopping up of New Zealand into rural versus urban - it doesn't have to be like that. There is actually a much better way and that's understanding we can all work together.

"It's not one or the other. You don't have to disrespect people just because you don't understand what they do."

 

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