OPINION: New Zealand's agricultural industry is in the thick of its biggest biosecurity disaster to date. And what are our politicians and the leader of our country doing? Pointing fingers. Trying to dodge culpability and steer it in someone else's direction.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern came out swinging last night – saying "this government is having to pick up the pieces of significant neglect and under-investment," and branding the situation "shameful."
Of all the possible aspects of this complex situation the PM could comment on – THIS is how she chooses to handle things?
The former Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy and current Minister for Agriculture, Damien O'Connor are no better – constantly sniping back and forth, firing shots whenever the opportunity presents itself.
There's no denying tensions are running high.
But the last thing farmers need is a blame game.
What they need is a show of unity.
They need to be reassured both sides of the Government can put aside their differences and find us a way out of this hellhole.
What they're seeing instead is grandstanding and the kids bickering in the backseat of the car on a veeeeeery long road trip.
It's not good enough.
Here at The Country, we're in a unique position. We hear from affected farmers every day, as well as those who aren't affected, but are scared they will be soon.
The first question they ask of us (whether it's via text, email, Facebook, Twitter or over the phone), is not, 'Which political party do you think is to blame?' That can come later if people are so hell-bent on apportioning blame.
The questions they want answers to are, 'What's the latest?', 'Is the cull still going ahead?' or 'Does anyone know how this got into the country yet?' and 'Who's going to foot the bill if this keeps escalating?'
For those with M bovis, there's a different set of questions: What's going to happen to their stock – will they stay or will they go? When are they going to be compensated? ARE they going to be compensated? Can they afford to eat next month?
Buck up your ideas Parliament. If ever there was a time to show true, genuine leadership, that time is now.
Stop the petty squabbling and redirect that energy into better communication and letting us know that no matter what, you'll work together to get our industry and our country through this.
- Rowena Duncum is The Country's Executive Producer. You can hear her weekdays from 12-1pm on The Country and from 5-6am on The Country Early Edition.