It is said that fortune favours the brave and that timing is everything.
In the quiet country backroads of rural New Zealand, both fortune and timing seem to have turned towards the hills and smiled. A broad beam of hope radiates across rural communities who are remembering once again what it is like to be "essential" and just how deeply they are indeed connected to their urban brothers and sisters through a supply chain on which both rely.
Conversely in the high offices of Parliament, a shadow may well have fallen across the over-burdened desks of those tasked with bringing about our tumultuous transition to Net Zero Carbon by 2050.
The primary lever designed to open carbon credit valves and pour money into offsetting emissions on farmland, via the planting of largely exotic forests, has suddenly become significantly harder to pull.
Agreeing to forego approximately 50 billion future dollars in pursuit of carbon neutrality now seems problematic in an environment where further billions are being haemorrhaged weekly in an effort to stem unemployment, prevent the catastrophic collapse of our service sector and stave off the much-feared 'U' shaped curve of economic recovery.
The once expedient answer to all our environmental woes has lost much of its original shine in the wake of a widespread slowdown in the demand for logs, a precipitous fall in fossil fuel consumption, and ongoing uncertainly about how the economy will emerge from its Covid-19 induced coma without its tourism leg to stand on.
The prospect of limping into the future leaning on a primary sector hamstrung by emissions liabilities suddenly seems less than ideal.
In the words of Sir Peter Gluckman, we have always needed to develop "a common view of the path ahead or we'll all go in different directions". There is little doubt that since its inception the Net Zero Carbon Bill has pursued a path entirely at odds with primary producers, irrespective of their stripes.
There was little chance that rural communities would invite the decimation of their communities with open arms, open their gates to the planting gangs and walk away with no thought to what they left behind.
There was even less chance that they would welcome as neighbours corporate syndicates looking to park their emissions liabilities somewhere out of sight of environmentally-minded consumers. The result has been a stand-off and an uneasy stalemate since consultation closed on the ETS reforms in February.
Then Covid-19 arrived. The wave of economic uncertainty has since eroded everything we thought we knew about where our country was heading. We collectively looked on in horror as the will to keep everyone alive superseded the need to keep everyone happy, employed or occupied.
As the immediate threat of infection recedes, the weight of responsibility must now be carried by us all as we reassess who we are as a country, what we have left to build on and which path we will take.
The question must now be asked, are we brave enough to build a path together? One thing is for sure – the timing has never been better. If the Government wants trees, and farmers want to keep their communities – maybe it's time they got together to work out how we can have both.
- Kerry Worsnop is a former vice-president of Gisborne Federated Farmers and current Gisborne City councillor and sheep and beef farmer.