Winston Peters gave his final interview for 2019 on The Country, (or The Farming Show as he calls it), to take a look back at what had been a "hard, gruelling" year for him, but also to tell farmers they have never had it better under the current coalition Government.
Jamie Mackay and Peters have always had a bit of banter and today's interview was no exception with the Deputy PM blaming The Country host for a drop in farmer confidence and for holding up the Essential Freshwater Plan.
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Mackay: The Rabobank Farmer Confidence Survey is out today, the final one for 2019. It is still negative, albeit it's rebounded somewhat but it's net negative minus 12. With record returns for farming that is an indictment on this Government. What do you say in your defence?
Peters:No I say it's an indictment on you and The Farming Show [The Country].
Mackay: Well don't blame me it's not my fault!
Peters: No, no, no. Is this interview about me or is it about you?
Mackay: It's about both of us Winston. It's about consensus.
Peters: No, no. You've got the rest of the week to give your mind and I've only got this brief moment to ensure your audience hears the truth. Now here's the facts here.
Here you've got these record returns. These returns would be nothing like a record if the currency under the National Party persisted in the way it has in the last two years. We've gone from above 80 cents US - dollars that is - in the dollar, to now between 64 and 66, up and down around about there.
The returns to the farmers as a consequence are massive and that's why if the farmers were hearing the right message they'd reflect on the fact that they've got record returns, and the record returns are in part because the dollar's where it should be for an export- dependent economy and farmers are exporters.
Now if they heard this message more often they'd actually stop and think "well actually I that might be why we're doing far better than we did before".
Then you've got climate change measures coming but they're going to be totally shielded and cautioned and made the shock troops of improvement in a sustainable way whilst their income goes up, not down.
Mackay: Let's just move on to those because I listened to Simon Bridges talking to Mike Hosking this morning and Simon Bridges said you let farmers down this year. He said "the arsonist can't take credit for putting out the fires he started" and I think he was referring to the likes of Zero Carbon and more particularly, the Government's Essential Freshwater Plan. When are we going to see some action from you on that on behalf of the farmers of this country?
Peters: Well let's go back with Simon. I must tell you, I'm not putting the guy down but he wouldn't know one end of the cow from the other and you know that. Exactly. And there's a second thing - did he vote for those Zero Carbon legislations? Yes the National Party did.
Mackay: My question wasn't about the Zero Carbon Bill. I agree that we have a bipartisan approach and everyone signed up. The only disagreement is how we get there and how long it takes us to get there. My question was about the Essential Freshwater Plan which could decimate farming.
Peters: Oh did you say "could decimate farming?"
Mackay: Yes I said "could" because I'm waiting for some action from you.
Peters: Well I'm waiting for some action from you too because it's out there for consultation. We're waiting for your submissions. We're waiting for you to get off your rort half-acre and make a positive change and to ensure that clean water in this country, sustainable water - which is more of a crisis in the urban centres than it is in the rural centres - can happen.
Let's face it. We see thousands and thousands of farmers, usually evidenced by the farming programme The Country Calendar every Sunday night, all these forward-thinking farmers who've made massive changes. They're way ahead of any of the requirements for climate change already all by themselves. And our job is to ensure that they get clear guidelines where they get to decide how they're going to do it as a farming community. I can see enormous opportunity here for them to be the very cutting edge of change, maintaining our markets and in a way that's seriously sustainable.
They're going to have more income coming in the future - not less. But instead we've got there with a consultation document out there and along comes Mr Simon Bridges and he's throwing all sorts of water on it and talking about the arsonist starting the fire. Well you know, with the greatest respect, that's an Australian analogy.
Mackay: I'll ponder that on my Roslyn half-acre. Are you getting off your Saint Marys Bay half-acre over the Christmas break? What are you up to?
Peters: Well actually I've got to tell you the truth ... I'm trying to plan a holiday away from everything and get a decent rest because it's been a hard, gruelling year. We'll have been overseas 17 times while doing everything else and I'm not complaining about that, but it gets to be a long and difficult year when that happens.
Mackay: Well Winston Peters I've always enjoyed your company here on The Country. We get a lot of feedback from your interviews, good, bad and otherwise. We might send you a box of MacKaiser [The Country's beer] to stop you being grumpy over the Christmas break. I'd hate you to be a Grinch.
Peters: No, no, no. I want to thank you for a great year and thanks for having me on your programme. It's a trial and ordeal for me but I love the chance of talking to your audience because in the end - we do give a damn about rural New Zealand and the countryside - and that's why we've got the Provincial Growth Fund and all these other things that are exciting for your future.
Mackay: Well I mean let's face it, Shane Jone is the Kiwi version, the Māori version of Santa Claus around this country and it's not only at Christmas time. Winston Peters thank you very much for your time.
Peters: [Laughing] Thank you, cheers, bye bye.