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RWNZ decries loss of Ministry of Rural Affairs


18 November 2008


RWNZ decries loss of Ministry of Rural Affairs

After lobbying long and hard for a Ministry of Rural Affairs, Rural Women New Zealand is bitterly disappointed that there will be no direct representation for rural communities in the new National-led government, with the announcement that the Rural Affairs portfolio, established in 2002, is to be axed.

Rural issues extend well beyond agriculture, and in the past the Minister of Rural Affairs has had an important role to play in monitoring and overseeing a wide range of policies affecting rural communities.

“The Minister of Rural Affairs has had an over-arching role, ensuring the rural perspective was factored into health, education, transport, power and land access policies, to name a few,” says RWNZ National President, Margaret Chapman. “Rural Women New Zealand has also worked with the Ministry to develop a rural impact assessment tool to ‘rural-proof’ government policy.”

Absorbing the Rural Affairs role into the Ministry of Agriculture threatens to dilute its effectiveness and lead to policies that fail to take into account broader rural needs at a time when vibrant agricultural businesses and service industries rely on strong communities to support them.

“It is vital to provide for the needs of the rural workforce to continue to grow this important sector in the New Zealand economy,” says Ms Chapman.

“Without a Ministry of Rural Affairs, we fear rural communities will be overlooked, leading to an increasing exodus of families to the cities where better infrastructure and facilities are available.

“It is ironic that a National government - traditionally seen as a supporter of provincial and rural New Zealand - should decide to discontinue the Ministry of Rural Affairs.”

ENDS

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