Clear leadership from Govt needed

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It is clear from the many conversations I have had within the electorate following the last three weeks that, despite differing opinions on where the country is heading, there are several things many agree on.

If there is one clear point among them, it is that the need for clearer and more concise leadership from the Government has never been greater.

With instability across the world both politically and economically, there is a real need for stability in New Zealand.

While the protests have dominated public discussion recently, I think it is vitally important that the Government is also held to account over a range of important issues facing our communities.

Getting a better handle on the economy should be the starting point.

I am sure many of you will have heard what I have heard repeatedly in recent conversations — it seems to be getting more and more expensive to live our daily lives.

While we can’t control the rippling effects of the terrible situation in Ukraine, there are instruments within the Government’s grasp which can stabilise New Zealand’s economy.

Inflation was at a three› decade high well before the tensions began.

Putting an end to their continued indulgence of vanity legacy projects like the Three Waters Reforms and restructure of the health system would slow down rampant Government spending, which would have a marked cooling effect on an economy that is clearly overheating.

Issues facing the farming sector also need to be at the forefront of public discussions moving forward.

It was pleasing to see the Government finally address the issue of carbon farming last week.

Ending the Special Forestry Test, which provided a special carve›out just for farmland so it could be purchased by international interests, skewing the playing field and resulting in productive food›producing land being planted out in forestry, was overdue.

A balance needs to be struck between carbon sequestration, biodiversity values, food production and the welfare of our regional communities, and this special carve›out didn’t achieve that balance.

I think it is worth noting that an estimated 17% of all New Zealand’s native forest is on sheep and beef farms and it is playing a vital, but often unheralded role in supporting biodiversity.

To put New Zealand’s situation in a wider context, we have a total of 10.1 million hectares of native and exotic forestry, covering 38% of New Zealand’s land area.

By comparison, the UK has just 13% of its land area planted out in tree cover while Australia has just 17%.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates the world’s farmers will need to increase food production by 70% if we are to adequately feed growing populations.

New Zealand agriculture has world›leading greenhouse gas footprints. But we must tell this story better.

› Issues facing the farming sector also need to be at the forefront of public discussions moving forward. ›