Labour, NZ First, the Greens and National agree on debt relief
By Richard Harman (author)
National has ended up supporting an NZ First bill to force banks to go into mediation before they sold farms up because of failure to pay back loans.
On Tuesday night Shadow Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee, told POLITIK that party would be unlikely to support the bill.
But it appears pressure from the party's rural MPs may have forced a rethink.
Even so, Brownlee, was very cautious in his speech supporting the Bill going to a Select Committee.
There was also some internal politicking going on in New Zealand First.
The Bill was originated in 2015 with Ron Mark. On Tuesday it was brought into the House by NZ First MP, Darroch Ball, a close associate of Mark's.
But yesterday it was the party's Agriculture Spokesperson, Mark Patterson, who stood to make the Bill's first reading speech.
Introducing the Bill yesterday, Patterson linked it to the Mycoplasma Bovis outbreak.
“We are in the midst of the biggest biosecurity outbreak in New Zealand history
“While we don't know the extent, or the eventual extent, of that outcome, this bill gives another layer of certainty in uncertain times.“
The Bill was fast-tracked into Parliament yesterday without having to go through the usual Private Members' Bill ballot as part of the response to the Mycoplasma Bovis outbreak and the possibility that some farmers may find their incomes drastically reduced because of the disease.
Despite Brownlee's earlier position opposing the Bill, he supported the Bill being introduced and going to a Select Committee.
However, it was clear he had significant reservations.
“We'll support it going to a select committee, and we'll engage at that select committee to try and get a bill that is more reasonable for the House, but we make no commitments on the bill as it is written
But National’s rural MPs linked the Bill to the Mycoplasma Bovis outbreak.
Clutha Southland MP, Hamish Walker said banks were already putting pressure on farmers who had had to slaughter stock because of the Mycoplasma Bovvis outbreak.
“I do want to acknowledge the banks in Southland dealing with a lot of farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis at the moment,” he said.
“The feedback is banks are working with them well in Southland.
“It's not so true in areas like South Canterbury and North Otago.”
“There are four or five farmers that are really, really struggling up there with Mycoplasma Bovis, and the banks are putting pressure on them, so it's very timely that this bill's come up.”ountry MP Barbara Kuriger said the Mycoplasma Bovis outbreak had huge created uncertainty among farmers.
“Farmers are very fearful out there," she said.
“They don't know where it is.
“They don't know how far it's gone.
“They don't know how it's got into the country.
“They don't know what the cause of it is.
“Some of them know that it's potentially on their farm.
“Some of them know that it is on their farm, and some of them don't know when it's going to come to their farm, don't know when it's going to be eradicated.”
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor gave his support to the Bill but, like Brownlee, he had some reservations about its shape at present.
”I think he (Brownlee) has made some very fair points,” he said.
“That is, that this bill is a good attempt. It will need some adjustment, and the Government does support this both into select committee and at select committee, and yet we haven't had time to consider the extent of the changes and the level of support that we will give, but I think we have to admit—and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out—there are pressures in the primary sector at the moment.”
It was perhaps left to new Labour MP, Kieran McNulty, to sum up the ultimate mood in parliament while the Bill was debated.
“I must say, as a new member in this House, that I am quite pleased that on the number of occasions that both sides of this House do work together on particular issues," he said.
“This bill is important. It is timely.
“ It identifies an issue that this House should take seriously, and from my perspective and, I think, from the perspective of the Labour Party, it is heartening not only to see New Zealand First put it forward but to see every single party in this House support it.”