Labour will re-appoint Rural Affairs Minister

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

A Labour government will re-appoint a Minister for Rural Affairs to ensure rural communities again have an advocate in Cabinet, says Labour’s Rural Affairs spokesperson Damien O’Connor.Labour will re-appoint Rural Affairs Minister

A Labour government will re-appoint a Minister for Rural Affairs to ensure rural communities again have an advocate in Cabinet, says Labour’s Rural Affairs spokesperson Damien O’Connor.

Releasing Labour’s Rural Affairs policy today, Damien O’Connor said: “National eliminated the portfolio, and in doing so 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.”

Damien O’Connor said Labour’s policy will also focus on key areas of infrastructure and rural services, rural broadband and quality rural health and education.

Labour initiatives will include:

* Ensuring remote areas that will struggle to get access to fibre are given priority under the Rural Broadband Initiative for access via satellite, wireless or other means;

* Ensuring funding for local roads is not further undermined by an excessive focus on so-called Roads of National Significance;

* Restoring funding for Adult Community Education and increasing funding over time;

* Requiring all school buses to have seatbelts, starting with those on open roads;

* Developing multi-disciplinary health teams to provide targeted healthcare for rural Kiwis;

* Extending the voluntary bonding scheme to encourage dentists into rural and provincial practice;

* Commit an extra $16 million to the Sustainable Farming Fund;

* Double-staff all one-person police stations. “Labour in government implemented a rural proofing policy that required all departments to check policy proposals against a checklist ensuring rural Kiwis were not excluded or disadvantaged by changes being proposed,” Damien O’Connor said. “We don’t believe National is using this useful tool properly, and rural New Zealand has been the loser.”

Authorised by Damien O’Connor, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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