New political party to focus on rural needs

By Katie Cullen Montgomerie

The founders of the new NZ Rural Party will steer clear of moral issues and focus on monetary policy and reciprocal ownership rights for overseas land.

Northlanders Joe Carr and Ken Rintoul said if the party came to fruition it would focus on supporting the needs of rural New Zealand.

Mr Carr said the party was still in its early stages and they wanted input from potential members as to what issues it should be concentrating on. They said the biggest issue for their supporters was the exchange rate.

Mr Rintoul said it was hard to attract young people into agriculture if they could not see themselves making a living. This was a result of a strong New Zealand dollar. Mr Carr also said there was concern over sovereignty of land and believed there should be reciprocal rights of sale of freehold land between countries.

"If we can go to China and buy a piece of land there, freehold, then they should be able to buy it here. But we can't do that."

Mr Carr said the party would not be getting involved in any moral issues.

"Nothing to do with race, religion, sexual orientation, we will steer away from all those moral issues. If that becomes an issue in Parliament where we have to vote, it will be a conscience vote for each individual."

Both founders are based in Okaihau from farming backgrounds and said they felt current political parties had treated rural New Zealanders with "disdain." "There's a lack of recognition and respect for the important contribution rural New Zealand makes to the economy," Mr Carr said.

Rural New Zealand, and particularly farmers, had been a stronghold of National Party support. Mr Rintoul said he had been a National supporter for the past 30 years. However, Mr Carr and Mr Rintoul believe political expediency has over taken National's principles. National Party MP for Northland, Mike Sabin, declined to comment.

Mr Carr and Mr Rintoul are unsure if they will stand as MPs but said whoever did should reflect the rural community.

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- Northern Advocate

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