I recently read a speech made by Federated Farmers CEO Conor English at the Large Herds Conference, held in Ashburton in March.
I found the whole speech pretty terrifying: there’s talk of “water storage” (read ownership, trade-ability, water as a hostage), climate change (“We know there is a problem with climate change, because fashion tells us there is one!”) but the thing that has stayed with me is a comment Mr English makes about the voice of farmers:
“We need to think about this for a bit. It's important to realise that by number, farmers are about the same size as the gay community (my emphasis). With MMP and the increasingly urban dominated political environment, we have challenges in bringing the country with us and winning the numbers game. We need to punch above our weight to get our voice heard and to win the debates. And that is exactly what we are doing.”
(I’ve never heard Conor English speak and I don’t know anything about him, but in my head, the tone of that second sentence is not inclusive.)
Unfortunately I think he’s right. Farmers do punch above their weight, their voices are heard, and they do “win the debates”.
That a group of farmers has so much political sway and the gay community has so little really pisses me off!
This is not a level playing paddock, I don’t know how to play the number’s game and I don’t see how we can ever achieve any kind of equity of “voice”.
Grrr! What are your thoughts?
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