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Groundswell refuses to meet prime minister alongside other groups, as ructions inside agriculture lobby surface


Groundswell has declined an offer to meet with the prime minister alongside other sector groups, saying they will only meet with her one-on-one.

The news comes as tensions between the new protest group and other agriculture lobby groups have bubbled up.

Dairy NZ chair Jim van der Poel accused Groundswell of “misinformation” and “political tricks” in a letter to members last week.

Groundswell have organised “howls of protest” against the Government.

Stuff

Groundswell have organised “howls of protest” against the Government.

Ardern’s offer to meet came after months of pressure from the group to get time with her.

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A spokesperson said they were opening to hearing from Groundswell on their proposed policy on agricultural emissions, but this meeting would also involve other groups.

“The prime minister had invited Groundswell to a primary sector meeting this week, to give the group an opportunity to discuss their proposal. Groundswell has currently declined the invitation, saying they will only meet one on one,” a spokesperson for Ardern said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office said it was not her role to work out differences between group.

Chris McKeen/Stuff

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office said it was not her role to work out differences between group.

There is a major split between the protest group and the more established lobby groups on how to deal with emissions from agriculture, New Zealand’s largest polluter.

The established groups like Dairy NZ and Beef + Lamb have been working with the Government on the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) process since 2019, which aims to find a way to price agricultural emissions that avoids it entering the Emissions Trading Scheme, which other sectors are covered by.

Groundswell wants to end that work programme and instead fund more research, with no price on emissions in the near-future.

The spokesperson for Ardern said it was not for the prime minister to resolve tensions between groups – but that it was normal to have a wide range of views present at a meeting.

Dairy NZ chair Jim van der Poel said the debate needed to be focused on facts.

supplied

Dairy NZ chair Jim van der Poel said the debate needed to be focused on facts.

“We also communicated with them that having a range of perspectives in the meeting is important and does not preclude discussing difficult issues or the opportunity for their proposals to be heard. It is not the Government’s place to resolve issues between wider groups.”

“The prime minister is accustomed to having a wide range of strongly held and different positions discussed around the table and in such situations her aim is to find common ground to make progress.”

Van der Poel from Dairy NZ wrote to members accusing Groundswell of “misinformation” over a Facebook post.

“Farmers deserve better than misinformation, personal attacks and political tricks,” he wrote.

The post used an older photo of Dairy NZ CEO Tim Mackle shaking hands with Ardern and said “Breaking News: DairyNZ supports the Government’s farming tax”.

Bryce McKenzie from Groundswell is keen to nix any immediate plans to price agricultural emissions.

Kavinda Herath/Stuff

Bryce McKenzie from Groundswell is keen to nix any immediate plans to price agricultural emissions.

Van der Poel said this implied there was some kind of new deal when in fact Dairy NZ had long been in the HWEN process, which he saw as crucial to keeping agriculture out of the ETS.

“Ultimately any option put forward will need to be acceptable to the government as a viable alternative if we are to avoid agriculture going into the ETS,” Van De Poel said.

“We believe Groundswell have very good intentions, however unfortunately many of their claims are misleading and inaccurate, which ultimately does not serve farmers well. Discussions of the emissions pricing options that will work best for farmers and New Zealand must be grounded in fact.”

McKenzie from Groundswell told Stuff the post was not misinformation.



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