Monday, February 23, 2009

Jeanette Fitzsimons departure could signal a dangerous radical change in Green Party politics

All farmers will be shuddering today at the news that Jeanette Fitzsimons is expected to stand down as the Green Party co-leader.

Fitzsimons changed the face of NZ politics in a positive way and allowed the Greens to have a moderate face - enhancing their appeal.

Her legacy is in all of us - particularly in the agricultural sector, where like it or not we have all begun to think about environmental impacts of farm practices and although I hear some of you grumbling about that, I think we owe her some gratitude.

As Jeanette and the Greens have campaigned, the world and consumers have changed. Now, more than ever, our produce has to appear to be safe, sustainable and with a regard for tomorrow's customers. When the Greens first came to power we hadn't even heard of carbon miles - now we are racing to catch up, trying desperately to win the overseas markets, and to convince the public that we, as farmers, are doing everything we can to produce a clean fresh product that will be able to be grown today, tomorrow and the next decade without damaging the land we are caretakers of.

Jeanette brought these issues to the forefront but in a dignified and patient manner. She was not extreme, but a realist in some respects, and had the interests of all New Zealanders in her grasp.

What then is the new face of the Green Party to look like?

Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei are front runners for the position - both of which are enough to put the heebie jeebies into any farmer. Bradford looks to be the favoured prospect but she is a radical (God help us if the Greens get to hold any power in future Governments). Think anti-smacking bill and you get some idea of her agenda.

Unlike Fitzsimons she appears to have little patience and a loose grasp on the reality of business and the economy.

For farmers she is everything in the Green party they are afraid of...and then some.

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