Impassioned plea on behalf of farmers

Miles Anderson. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Miles Anderson. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
New Waitaki MP Miles Anderson has used his maiden speech in Parliament for a spirited defence of farmers, who he said had been given a raw deal by decision-makers.

Mr Anderson, a former Federated Farmers board member, also urged the country to have the courage to develop more hydro-electric power schemes.

"It is somewhat unsettling to note that the last major project of national significance, and not one that benefited commuters in either Wellington or Auckland, was the Clyde Dam," Mr Anderson, who retained the seat of Waitaki for National at the last election, said.

"The dam was completed 30 years ago and since then we have collectively hidden behind a curtain of regulation when opportunity has knocked at our door.

"We have gone from a nation that undertook projects like the Waitaki hydro scheme to a nation that kow-tows to activist pressure groups and gives up."

Mr Anderson, who described how he went from owning a livestock pregnancy-scanning firm to taking over the farm which the Anderson family had tended for more than 130 years, said one of his motivations for entering politics was a feeling that farming had been given a "raw deal" by decision-makers who had little understanding of the rural sector.

"Farming sentiment is the worst I have ever seen.

"Farmers are leaving the industry due to unworkable regulations," he said.

"These are costing enormous amounts of money, eroding property rights and are ridiculously time-consuming."

Family farms had been the worst affected by the malaise surrounding the sector, he said.

"To see farmers unfairly targeted by decision-makers and NGOs is disgraceful.

"The simple fact is it’s hard to be green when you are in the red."

Mr Anderson paid tribute to former Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, who retired from politics at the election, having held the seat since 2008.

"Thank you for giving such a large portion of your life to the people of our electorate and I wish you well in your endeavours outside of Parliament."

Mr Anderson’s parting shot was a defence of free speech, which he said had been subverted in recent years.

"It seems that any opinion that isn’t supported by activists and/or so-called progressives is deemed extremist," he said.

"A sense of fair play and respect for another’s point of view is the hallmark of democracy in New Zealand.

"We must not lose this bedrock principle of our democratic society in a rush to either extreme wokeness or due to intolerance."