Wanganui Chronicle

Columns
Wednesday, June 10, 2015

PARLIAMENT has seemed extremely quiet during the past couple of weeks, particularly following on from the Budget and all its associated activity.

The Budget itself has been very well received.

The Government has delayed reporting back to Parliament of the bill containing workplace safety legislation - at least until it is certain it will be fair and operable.

I don't envisage this will take too long. It is important to get the legislation reported back to the House and passed reasonably quickly to bring certainty to a situation that's creating a great deal of concern in many sectors of our economy.

This legislation is important to us all - particularly in rural and provincial New Zealand. We have an accident level in the workplace in this country which is quite unacceptable.

Having talked with many farmers, farm workers, agents, and others involved in the agricultural industry, it seems to me they have three main areas of concern.

The first is the issue of carrying passengers on a 4x4 motorbike.

Hill-country farmers in particular want to know how they are going to be able to efficiently transport people around their farms, whether it's the vet, an agent or the bank manager - if some of the proposed changes are made.

The second issue essentially relates to where the workplace starts and stops, and how the family farm manages the involvement of children.

Number three is the use of farmland by sporting organisations, fundraising groups, recreational fishers, hunters and myriad other groups who use privately owned farmland for recreational pursuits.

While I believe the legislation will land fairly, the devil will be in the detail and how it is communicated and enforced. This is certainly a matter the Government will be paying attention to as the legislation progresses through the system.

Today I'm at the National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, New Zealand's premier agribusiness expo which attracts 120,000-plus visitors over four days, including a large number from overseas.

It is a great chance to show the world the latest and greatest in agriculture in New Zealand. The Fieldays are unrivalled for showcasing New Zealand agricultural expertise, innovation and world leadership.

The National Fieldays also play a big part in helping connect rural and urban New Zealand by showing off what is best about our primary industries. After all, the primary industries are the backbone of the economy. They make up about 73 per cent of our merchandise exports and help us, as a nation, pay for things such as schools, hospitals and roads.

The theme for this year's Fieldays is "Growing our capability in Agribusiness" and I'm looking forward to spending some time in the innovation centre.

At least two Rangitikei farmers will be showcasing products. David and Jacky Short have released the latest iteration of their portable shearing unit - the Handypiece Pro - to coincide with the Fieldays and will be there to demonstrate.

Roger Dalrymple will also be on site to show off the latest on offer from Agbits, his company which produces products to solve on-farm problems.

The Fieldays is an event like no other and one that always delivers.

Innovation is vital to the continued success of the agri-sector and I look forward to reporting back on this year's "finds" and newly unveiled innovations.