Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended the Dairy Leaders Forum in Wellington today, where she hoped to have "one-on-one" conversations with farmers and to work on the "similar goals" between the Government and the rural community. She spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay before the event, to discuss her thoughts on the supposed urban/rural divide, and to pay tribute to cancer campaigner Blair Vining's efforts which resulted in the establishment of the Cancer Control Agency.
Mackay: I want to look at a health issue that has a rural connection and this is the Cancer Control Agency, the brainchild really of the late Blair Vining and his wife Melissa who is still carrying on doing great work. I mean this is a testament to this man's courage and I'm glad that you guys, the Government and to be fair the Nats have picked up the ball on cancer.
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Ardern: Yeah ... the Cancer Control Agency is up and running, we announced that alongside our Cancer Action Plan. We all know since then of course, around that time we've also got additional money going in to Pharmac which has led to additional cancer drugs being purchased.
We've also announced those extra, what they call, linear accelerators - basically radiation therapy being able to be accessed in regions where they haven't been before.
The agency's all about getting rid of what Blair advocated, that postcode lottery, that difference in treatment and care based on where you are in the country. That should not exist and so that will be a real focus.
Mackay: 8.20 Wednesday morning as we record this interview to be played at lunchtime, in between times you will have been at the Dairy Environment Leaders forum, I think it's in Wellington, and hopefully Prime Minister you'll get to see the some of the really good things that are happening out there.
Yes I'm looking forward to having a few one-on-one conversations as well, but also a chance for me to acknowledge the huge amount of advocacy and exemplary work we've seen from our farming leaders who have a particular passion for environmental advocacy as well.
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I'm looking forward to it. We've got very similar goals and there's not enough recognition of the work that's going on out there.
Mackay: There's a lot of good work going on out there - just go back and tell David Parker that - and one more before I go ...
Ardern: Oh he was there last night and he knows, in fact I do read his statements and I do read his speeches and he often acknowledges that.
I think we have an outsider view of course Jamie. We do have an issue where it seems to be in the media's interest to pit that there's a rural/urban divide and I don't believe there is. We all want the same thing. So we do need to make more of the great examples that are out there.
Mackay: We just need to agree on how we get there.
Also in today's interview: Ardern discussed poll results, the End of Life Act, legalising cannabis and the upcoming British election.