On Friday last week National Party leader Judith Collins visited the Waipā district and announced a health policy that will benefit women, especially rural women, she says.

National is pledging to put $20 million towards protecting women from gynaecological cancers through greater awareness, improved clinical guidelines, increased testing and greater access to clinical trials.

The Opposition leader made the announcement to a large crowd of farmers and business people at John Austin Ltd yards in Te Mawhai near Te Awamutu.

She was joined by National Party MP for Taranaki/King Country, Barbara Kuriger, and MP for Hamilton East, David Bennett.

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"As an ambassador for the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation this has special significance to me. Too many women are going untested and undiagnosed at the moment," says Judith.

"It's one of those important things that we need to stand up for and women's health should not be put on the back burner."

A large crowd gathered at John Austin yards to listen to Judith Collins speak and to ask her questions. Photo / Caitlan Johnston
A large crowd gathered at John Austin yards to listen to Judith Collins speak and to ask her questions. Photo / Caitlan Johnston

Each year in New Zealand over 1000 women are diagnosed with gynaecological cancer and 475 die.

The signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancer are difficult to determine, says Judith.

"We will be promoting even greater awareness so that women can get themselves diagnosed as soon as possible, National will provide a funding boost to awareness campaigns to ensure this happens," says Judith.

Having grown up on a dairy farm herself, Judith acknowledged that farming is a stressful and sometimes isolated profession but that this should not mean people should have less access to treatments because they live in the country.

"This is very important because who's going to be there at calving time, who's going to be out there with you doing the farm work? I'm sure that you don't want anything to happen to your spouses or daughters," says Judith.

This investment is alongside National's commitment to fund an independent cancer agency and set up a $200m fund dedicated to cancer drugs.

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At the farmers' meeting Judith also announced that the Recourse Management Act (RMA)
"is going out the back, in that old oil drum and it's going to be burnt", if National takes Government.

This announcement was welcomed by a roar of cheering and clapping.

"We've got to get rid of the RMA; it's the biggest handbrake on the New Zealand economy and it's been like that for the past 30 years," says Judith.

"It's just stopping anything happening, aren't you sick of being told what to do on your own land?

"It's got to the stage now where there is all the responsibility of owning land and none of the fun."

The Opposition party leader mingled with the crowd after the farmers' meeting. Photo / Caitlan Johnston
The Opposition party leader mingled with the crowd after the farmers' meeting. Photo / Caitlan Johnston

The plan is to replace the RMA with environmental standards and she says by doing this farmers will get more free time to do what they need on their farms.

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Judith also announced that she plans to have the 90 day trial period for new employees in place.

"It's on with us – it's off with them," says Judith.

Alongside this, she shared that National will offer employers a financial kickstart when they take on a new employee.

$5000 will be given upfront when a new employee is taken on and a further $5000 will be given once the employee has completed their 90 day trial.

To close the meeting, Judith spoke about upcoming announcements regarding streamlining issues around health and safety, tax and water storage, how the $31 billion infrastructure package benefits Waipā residents and that National will support farmers and rural communities immensely.

"We've got agriculture back on the front bench of the National Party, as it should be and always should have been, and it's really important that we consistently advocate for and stand up for farming in rural communities," says Judith.

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