Winston Peters on letting skilled agricultural workers into NZ

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Wed, 12 Aug 2020, 2:35PM
Winston Peters (Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Winston Peters on letting skilled agricultural workers into NZ

Author
The Country,
Publish Date
Wed, 12 Aug 2020, 2:35PM

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has dismissed concerns from the agricultural sector that the Government has double standards when it comes to allowing skilled workers into New Zealand.

The Country's Jamie Mackay queried the Government's reasons for letting America's Cup crews and film production teams in, and not highly skilled drivers of agricultural machinery.

"That's not true," said Peters, who pointed out that essential workers had been allowed in to New Zealand to build artificial race tracks "because we don't have the skills".

"They came in under proper quarantine and are going about their job."

"To say that there's something going on that maliciously is against the farming community, is again, not true."

One solution to the machinery driver shortage was to utilise retirees, said Peters.

"There's a stack of people out there in retirement all over this country who can drive tractors, who know how to do harvesting, who know how to do a lot of things."

"I'm saying why don't you go and get them to skill up your own New Zealanders and train your own New Zealand people."

This country had a proudly productive agricultural background where a Kiwi farming family "could beat the best in the UK of a land owner and five adult workers" said Peters.

Driving machinery was part of this rich history, so there was no need to get overseas workers in, according to the Deputy Prime Minister.

"I was driving a tractor and I was 10 years of age – all of us were – so what's going on?"

Peters rejected Mackay's suggestion that the tractor he drove as a 10-year-old would be vastly different to the machinery used today.

"No, with respect, they're only bigger."

In fact, it took more skill to manoeuvre an older machine, according to Peters.

"The brakes back then were shaky, the gear box was stiff and jerky. These are far better machines to drive today than when I was young."

Meanwhile, Peters said it was difficult to give any updates on the latest Covid-19 situation at the time the interview was recording this morning.

"Things are premature at this point in time. We don't know what we're dealing with, but we'll work our way through it."

One thing Peters was sure about was his chances in this year's election, no matter what Covid-19 threw his way.

The Deputy Prime Minister bristled at Mackay's suggestion that a delayed election due to Covid-19 could help New Zealand First drum up more than 2 per cent of the vote.

Peters chastised The Country host for falling for pollsters, or the "same old snake oil tradesmen", who had "made fools of themselves" by failing to predict the results of the US election and Brexit.

"Why don't you guys wake up and understand this? If I've done this after 27 years and every time defied gravity. Why are you guys, like some sort of mindless parrots, repeating the same narrative?"

"How many times do I have to prove you wrong?"