Jacinda Ardern 'deeply grateful and humbled' by rural support

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Nov 2020, 8:49PM
Jacinda Ardern. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Jacinda Ardern 'deeply grateful and humbled' by rural support

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Nov 2020, 8:49PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is "deeply grateful and humbled" by the backing of farmers in this year's election.

Ardern confessed to The Country's Jamie Mackay that she had a look "at the booth by booth, in the Waikato in particular," for confirmation that "actually we did have significant support in rural communities."

"I don't take that for granted."

The Prime Minister put her success down to her government's plan to tackle Covid-19, which was "at the top of everyone's agenda right now," but she acknowledged it wasn't all about the pandemic for many voters.

"I also take from that an expectation, a sense of responsibility, that of course the communities that voted for us want us to keep engaging with them on some of those other gnarly issues."

Ardern said she addressed these issues at the Primary Industries New Zealand Summit yesterday.

Mackay asked if this meant Environment Minister David Parker's controversial freshwater reforms would be more "farmer friendly."

Ardern acknowledged that freshwater policies were "a real topic of discussion between us and our primary sector leaders," but said that the engagement had been "really good."

The Prime Minister said she had met with leaders from Federated Farmers, as well as the food and fibre sector.

"We know where there are things that we need to keep working through. I've always maintained that our goal has been the same - and I believe that now more than ever - we all want to stop degradation of our waterways, it's all about how we get there."

"And if something is completely impractical and won't deliver the result we're looking for - then of course we need to look at whether we do it differently."

Meanwhile, Ardern said farmers were an important part of New Zealand's economic response to Covid-19.

"Our exports have held up and if fact in some areas performing really well."

Strong performances from the dairy and horticulture sectors highlighted that people were looking for "trusted, reliable products," Ardern said.

"We can't discount the importance of our brand. So that's something I take very seriously."

Also in today's interview: Ardern admitted she was surprised by most electorates party voting Labour, confessed she wasn't keen to be Prime Minister for four terms, and predicted that 2021 would be "the year of the vaccination."