Although the election did not go Labour’s way, I am grateful to be heading back to Parliament this year as a List MP and as the Labour Spokesperson for Agriculture, Rural Communities, and Biosecurity.
I’ll have more to say about Labour’s plan for the primary industries soon, but I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on the last six years.
It was as a List MP that I first entered Parliament in 2017. Since then, the country has been through a lot: terrorism, natural disasters, and a pandemic.
Labour steered a steady ship through it all, but dealing with these events, of course, was not without its complexities.
It’s Labour’s values and our care for all New Zealanders – not just the few – that drives us. It is true that we have work to do to make sure Kiwis know and feel that Labour backs them.
That’s why we will be working with communities right across the country to build this support back.
Over our time in Government, we worked hard to tackle the long-term challenges facing New Zealand and I’m proud of the progress that we made on the big issues like housing, inequality, and climate change.
We were able to raise incomes, increase the housing supply, help more New Zealanders into work and training, and reduce climate emissions.
The new coalition Government made up of National, ACT, and New Zealand First want to leave all of this to chance, likely taking the country backwards.
After five years of hard work, sacrifice, and collaboration with MPI, DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb, we moved closer towards our goal of eradicating Mycoplasma Bovis.
I want to acknowledge the hardship borne by farmers and their families during this time.
I also want to thank the broader sector who stepped up their animal tracing efforts, allowing us to move the programme on to a new surveillance phase. Being the first in the world to attempt eradication, we have built a playbook over the last five years with immense effort from everyone involved.
In the year to June 2023, New Zealand’s food and fibre sector hit a new record high, with export earnings hitting $57.4 billion. Labour’s focus on trade and export growth was a major cornerstone of our economic recovery plan.
Together, with the help of the sector, we secured new free trade agreements with the UK and the EU, as well as an upgrade to the China FTA.
The new Government’s job now is to continue supporting our producers by opening doors for exporters wherever they can and build on the seven new or upgraded FTAs secured since Labour entered office.
We campaigned on progress and it’s something I will continue to fight for.
I will also continue to be a voice for rural Canterbury and would love to hear from you. Our diverse line-up for the 54th Parliament brings energy and experience to the very important job of Opposition.
I am confident our Labour team is up to the challenge of holding the new Government to account.