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'Marginalised' community welcomes Rural Affairs minister proposal

Labour's plan to reinstate a Minister of Rural Affairs if it wins the election has been welcomed by Rural Women NZ, which says the rural sector has been marginalised without an effective spokesperson.

Labour's plan to reinstate a Minister of Rural Affairs if it wins the election has been welcomed by Rural Women NZ, which says the rural sector has been marginalised without an effective spokesperson.

Damien O'Connor

The position was eliminated three years ago, by National, which Labour spokesman Damien O'Connor said "wiped out a powerful voice for rural communities all around New Zealand".

"Most countries with a strong rural focus understand the need for advocacy at Cabinet level. Labour will re-instate that voice.

Rural Women president Liz Evans said that left many people without a direct voice in Parliament.

“Only 14 percent of the population who identify themselves as rural actually work in agriculture,” she said.

“We don’t believe the interests of the other 86 percent of the rural population can be realistically and effectively represented by a Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity, who already has a huge and specific workload."

A dedicated minister would provide a direct line of advocacy for the rural community, she said.

“We were assured three years ago that rural community interests would be addressed by other ministries, but often rural concerns seem to be marginalised and wait listed.”