It was wonderful to see the level of support locally for the recent nationwide protest organized by Groundswell. Farmers from throughout the region participated and experienced a high level of support from those who honked, flashed lights, shouted out and joined in, all in support of our Farmers. I was surprised through at the seemingly lack of coverage this event got and wondered if it was as well supported nationwide as I thought.
So, it seems was Dr Shane Reti, National MP, who made this comment behind the paywall of The NZ Herald, 26 July 2021:
My expectation for print media on the first publishing day after the march (on Saturday, July 17) was that a protest of that breadth and size would have front-page coverage in the major metropolitan and regional newspapers. I was surprised, then, when one of the biggest weekend papers relegated substantive reporting (assessed as page coverage) to page 5 behind a $20,000 fraud story on page 1, whiteware sales on pages 2 and 3 and free meals for schoolchildren on page 4. Was a protest about land and fresh water and taxes really less important than whiteware sales?
He did acknowledge that it had received coverage up to the event, but he is right given the length and breadth of the protest, the coverage in our nationwide media was disturbingly lacking. Dr Reti commissioned the Parliamentary Library to collect data on the protest and published this summary.
Are our national media so far out of touch that they don’t see tens of thousands of people uniting throughout the country on common ground as a priority? Or is it because the Prime Minister simply refused to comment on the protests? Issuing a statement from the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor that the Government was “listening to the rural sector” but had to move forward on the commitments it had made “to make rivers clean and swimmable and address climate change.” Her refusal to engage in debate with issues that are not on her agenda and to simply ignore them runs a dangerous path as history has shown us time and time again.
Either way, we deserve better, and we deserve to be able to have a conversation about what our priorities are as a nation and not rely on a diatribe of government-controlled spin doctors telling us what is best for us all.