Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Can you hear us now?

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The deluge of new regulations and costs from the central government spilled over into protest on Friday when farmers, contractors and tradies across the country rallied for the Howl of a Protest.
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Trucks and harvest machinery, tractors, utes, transport companies and dogs took to Ashburton’s streets – just one of more than 45 towns and cities from Kaitaia to Invercargill – to host the peaceful protest rallies.

Organised by Groundswell NZ, in an effort to stand up for farmers, food producers, contractors and tradies against what it claims to be a tsunami of unworkable rules imposed by the central government.

Groundswell is seeking the scrapping of the freshwater, SNA, biodiversity and ute tax policies, changes to immigration, climate change and the Crown Pastoral Lease Act policies.

Organiser Laurie Paterson says the collective protest was about sensible persuasion in united support.

A diverse crowd of young and old of at least 300-400 people and dozens of utes and tractors decked out in anti-government placards gathered at the Groundswell protest in Morrinsville.

Among the tractors parked up was Myrtle, the vintage tractor made famous when former National MP Shane Ardern drove it up the footsteps of Parliament to protest a proposed fart tax in 2003.

The crowd reduced the town’s main road to a single lane, as the vehicles parked up near the town’s giant cow.

It had support of those driving through, despite the disruption with people giving the protestors a thumbs up and tooting their horns in support.

“Stick to your guns,” a retiree said from his car as he drove past.

“It’s quite emotional,” retired dairy farmer and protest co-organiser Lloyd Downing said.

“I didn’t think anyone was going to come and look at it,” he said looking out to the crowd.

Former Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven outlined a list of demands Groundswell wanted from the Government.

“Everyone is feeling overwhelmed by the avalanche of poorly designed policies and the ‘we know best, one-size-fits-all mindset of this current government,” McGiven said.

He described the ute tax as another tax on the productive sector.

“Who drove their ute or tractor here today? I hope it was for a legitimate use and I hope you were masculine enough to drive it. Here’s a message to Julie Anne Genter: ‘rural women need utes too’,” he said.

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