Top takeaways from Rural Issues debate ahead of national election

Top takeaways from Rural Issues debate ahead of national election

Now less than a month out from the national election, MPs from a number of major parties hoping to earn the votes of New Zealanders took to the floor in a rural issues debate on Thursday evening, a must-watch for rural Kiwis deciding where to cast their vote this year.

Todd McClay (National), Andrew Hoggard (ACT), Eugenie Sage (Green Party), Damien O'Connor (Labour) and Mark Patterson (New Zealand First) made up the panel, which was hosted and moderated by Newstalk ZB's Heather de Plessis-Allan at the Mystery Creek Events Centre just out of Hamilton.

REX host Dominic George tuned in to the debate alongside producer Jo Grigg, and the pair sat down on Friday to review the most important takeaways from the debate.

O'Connor, as George and Grigg noted, earned the "elder statesman award" for his paternalistic comments and perspective on New Zealand's need to fight for relevance in the global market.

"He sort of warned the field really... If you think people will come to us, we are dreaming," Grigg commented on O'Connor's viewpoint.

Meanwhile, Todd McClay was lauded for his ability to push his party lines and policies.

"As soon as he opened his mouth, out rolled the party lines without drawing breath. Quite impressive," Grigg added.

Eugene Sage's retirement announcement came as a shock, and the hosts noted her commitment to her party policies, such as keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees. 

However, Grigg was puzzled by some of her responses. 

"Somehow she ended up answering a question about He Waka Eke Noa with a comment about sheep milking, which didn't really stack up for me."

Finally, Mark Patterson's role in the debate was a point of interest. 

Grigg and George reflected on his performance and contribution to the debate, noting his challenging position. 

"I think he knows they're going to be there or thereabouts," George said.

"He's just doing what he had to do. He held up his end."

Throughout the episode, Grigg and George analysed not just the participants' performances, but also the implications of the rural issues debate on New Zealand's democracy. 

"You get the feeling that they all probably have a bit of a laugh out the back together, to be honest, and that for New Zealand democracy that's probably a good thing," George followed up.

Listen to the full chat between REX show Producer Jo Grigg and Dominic George above.

To check out more episodes listen to the REX Today Podcast anytime on your favourite streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Rova or tune in to REX Mornings live on Magic from 5 am to 6 am every weekday.

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