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Anderton, Speech At Young Farmers Grand Final

Anderton, Speech At Young Farmers Grand Final

I'd like to thank Jim Hopkins for his introduction. Some of you may have heard Jim is something of a writer. It's not so well known that a few years ago he decided to write a book about churches around the South Island. So he flew down to Dunedin and visited the cathedral. On a wall he found a golden telephone with a sign saying, '$10,000 per call'. Jim was intrigued, and asked a priest what the telephone was used for. The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and for $10,000 you could talk to God. Jim thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Christchurch. There, at the cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it. He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Dunedin and so he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was. She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and for $10,000 he could talk to God.
'O.K., thank you.' And on he went, through Invercargill, Nelson, Oamaru, Ashburton and Queenstown. Everywhere, the golden phone and the same sign, "$10,000 a call".

Finally he came over here to Greymouth. There he found the same golden phone, but this time the sign read "twenty cents a call." Jim was taken aback. He told the local priest "I've been all over the South Island and I've seen the direct line to heaven in churches everywhere. But everywhere else, it's been $10,000 a call. Why is it so cheap here?" The priest smiled and says, "You're on the Coast now, boy. It's a local call."

It's a pleasure to be here to celebrate our Young Farmers. This competition has put on display the astounding skill of our farmers. We need to celebrate that because our primary industries are the backbone of this country's prosperity. We've always had a talented and creative primary sector.

I wrote a book a few years ago about the Unsung Heroes of New Zealand. One of them was William Saltau Davidson. He was the pioneer of refrigerated shipping. We could have a statue to him in every town, because his innovation unlocked the potential of our primary industries and changed New Zealand for generations.

Before refrigerated shipping, we exported virtually no meat or dairy. Farms were mainly owned and managed by speculators who traded on land value rather than the underlying yield of the land's production. Davidson changed all that. The fact that we don't have a memorial to Davidson in every town shows we take for granted our primary industries and innovation on our land.

We take innovation for granted on our farms because it is commonplace. And just as innovation in the nineteenth century set alight our primary industries then, it will continue to fuel our future growth.

Farmers are great innovators. They are also businesspeople. And as businesspeople, they are increasingly consumer-led. Consumers around the world are changing their preferences, so our primary industries are responding. We have to.

Consumers for example have different lifestyles. Not many families have someone who can be at home to cook a roast during the week these days. Quick-to-prepare and ready-to-prepare meals are a much greater market and much greater opportunity than they used to be. Consumers are experiencing the cuisines of the world - so we need to supply a wider range of products to meet this changing demand.

Increasingly the world's consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their demands for products that are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Fortunately for New Zealand, we have a great story to tell.

We have some of the best environmental farming practice in the world. And we're becoming much better very quickly.

At the same time, we are having to compete against producers from new parts of the world. China, India and Brazil for example are all growing competitors in the primary industries. We are no longer the lowest cost producer of many primary products. It will be our ability to innovate will create our market advantage in future. We won't be able to compete on price alone against undifferentiated products.

Successful businesses adapt to these changing market conditions. The successful Young Farmers we are celebrating last night are leaders. It's clear from the calibre of participants tonight that we have a generation of quality leaders. Their success will help to inspire others in the challenges of creating and managing successful primary industry businesses.

We need our agriculture sector to be successful. Primary industries provide 65 percent of our export earnings. They are the mainstay of our living standard.

The future success of farming is dependent on the continued vitality of rural communities. This vitality is dependent on the activities demonstrated by the very people on show at these awards. So I take this opportunity to congratulate the successful young farmers And to congratulate you on tonight's honours.

It's good to be back on the Coast again tonight. When I come here I'm reminded of the story about the old guy who lived all his life on the Coast.

One day he rang his son, who had moved up to Auckland.
"I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing - thirty-five years of misery is enough."
"Dad, what are you talking about?" the son screams.
"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the older man says.
"We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Sydney and tell her," and he hangs up.
Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this."
She calls her father immediately, and screams at him, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing," and hangs up.
The older man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife.
"Okay," he says, "They're coming for Christmas and paying their own fares. Now what do we tell them for next Christmas?


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