New Zealand's rural political landscape is changing.
On the eve of an election that has been compared to the political scenario of the mid-1990s, we dive into an insightful discussion between Dominic George and Professor Hugh Campbell.
A renowned expert on rural politics in New Zealand, Campbell talks the history of politics in New Zealand farming, how and why it's changing and his new book on the subject.
Campbell drew a fascinating parallel between the current political landscape and the mid-1990s scenario where both major parties held a low share of the vote.
Campbell explained, "This election feels most like a couple of elections we had in the mid-1990s where, you know, Labour got dumped out of office in 1990 after the Rodger-nomics era and got dumped hard out by the Bolger and Lewis Richardson's government through farmers, by the way.
"Then National basically pursued a very, very unpopular program of doubling down on a whole of the Rodger-nomics staff and so by the time he got to the 90s, through the 96th election, both the major parties were unpopular."
Campbell also noted the significance of Andrew Hoggart's move into ACT, calling it "a really strong break with that old style of politics." He speculated on the impact of Hoggart, Todd McClay, and Mark Patterson on the future of New Zealand farming, stating that "between those three of them they've kind of got the future of New Zealand farming in their hands for the next three years."
Campbell drew attention to the importance of these farming leaders not just because of their roles in the government, but also due to the styles of politics they represent. He noted, "the challenge of how New Zealand responds to its climate obligation doesn't go away because he changed government. No matter how much you might wish it away, those things, those things continue to roll forward."
In a rapidly evolving political landscape, these leaders represent the diverging paths that farming politics could take in the future. Whether they will stick to the old alliances or carve out a new path in this political landscape is something that remains to be seen. As we navigate the changing tides of New Zealand's rural politics, this insightful conversation with Professor Campbell offers a crucial perspective on the past, present, and potential future of farming politics in the country.
His thoughts remind us that while the faces of politics may change, the challenges remain constant and the importance of the farming community in the political discourse is undiminished.
Listen to the full chat between Professor Hugh Campbell and Dominic George above.