Groundswell captures dissatisfaction
Mike Cranstone President Whanganui Federated Farmers
The widespread support for the Groundswell Mother of all Protests on Sunday was an indication of people’s dissatisfaction against this Government’s efforts to wrench control away from local communities. The protest was calling for this Government to stop imposing unworkable regulations on businesses and communities without any genuine consultation. The frustration and dismay that has driven farmers’ discontent is now being shared by many provincial and urban people. This Government’s process of compulsory mandating of the Three Waters may have been a shock to urban New Zealand but it comes as no real surprise to farmers. Imposing their plan of centralising control and ownership of the Three Waters assets revealed how this Government, in my opinion, arrogantly assumes it knows best and never had any intention of considering feedback from local communities. They have withheld information on the ownership and how the new entities will be funded and then offered hollow promises that councils would have the opportunity to consult with ratepayers before making their decision to join. None of this behaviour we would tolerate in our own households, and therefore the Groundswell message of “Enough is Enough” has resonated with so many passionate New Zealanders. The consultation process not only serves to provide local involvement in lawmaking but is also a process to make better regulations. Governments have a terrible track record of running businesses, and the current Cabinet has very little experience of the business world. Also, many of the additional 10,000 public policy employees that have been employed since 2017, many to write these new regulations, are straight out of university and are also lacking industry experience, the experience which often moderates grandiose ideas with a dose of reality. Without consultation, we should expect to get poorly drafted regulations that are unworkable to implement, fail to achieve the desired outcomes and will cause significant collateral damage to businesses and communities along the way. This Government has refused to meet with the organisers of the Groundswell protests, just as they kept the country’s mayors in the dark over Three Waters. This second Groundswell protest captured even more support from urban New Zealanders. Groundswell was borne out of the frustration of farmers, but now it is representing all New Zealanders who want to protect democracy, genuine consultation, and the expectation of high moral values from this Government.