Labour’s Shadow Minister of Finance David Parker looked the part in delivering his party’s monetary policy. I was impressed and it lasted until Mr Parker’s sequel, which read like Labour was targeting farmers as if we are ducks.
A recent jaundiced attack upon irrigation has me questioning if the party gets it. This speech reads as an electoral game plan designed to demonise a minority of the population while amplifying prejudices and preconceptions about what we do.
Labour’s political calculus is cynical because “farming equals bad water” is dog-whistle politics.
Evil evil farmers.
Labour’s anti-irrigation stance is a flip-flop from when Jim Anderton was Agriculture Minister. It also contradicts Labour’s desire to enact the world’s most repressive emissions trading scheme.
Winding up the Crown irrigation company not only flies in the face of regional economic development but regional climate adaptation. Are memories so short that we have forgotten adaptation was a key criticism of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?
According to the panel, Hawkes Bay can expect double or even triple the time spent in drought by 2040. Adaptation means new pastures and technologies, but fundamentally, it means storing rainwater. Residents in towns and cities do not wait for rain before taking a shower.
While water is vital to farming, without stored water some of our rivers increasingly will run lower and warmer. This is a consequence of less rainfall in a changing climate. It will also impact on farming and the environment equally.
So why is Labour so anti-irrigation?
The most distressing thing about dog-whistle politics is that it denies that farmers live where we farm.
It is a naked attempt to make farmers a breed apart. It is unreconstructed class warfare.
So the capitalists are no longer the enemy of the working class – it is the farmers!