Simon Bridges aims to connect with regional New Zealand

Rural Exchange 12/05/2018

National Party leader Simon Bridges has hit the road for a national tour of regional New Zealand in order to connect with communities.

Mr Bridges told RadioLIVE that the next two month journey is “a serious roadtrip”.

The roadie’s fundamental purpose is to talk with as many New Zealanders from as many walks of life as possible.

“For us to have the right to be considered for Government in 2020, we’ve got to make sure we’re listening really hard and developing what we’re hearing into coherent, strong policies,” Mr Bridges said.

“You get the same, same, same questions, same issues and concerns coming through,” he said. “And that’s just really, really instructive.”

“I’m obviously auditioning as the alternative Prime Minister. So it’s also about giving people a sense of me, my story and values.”

Co-host Richard Loe cut straight to the chase, inquiring what the Opposition leader’s thoughts are on irrigation – a huge issue facing the agricultural industry.

“We all understand, in regional New Zealand at least, understand that bigger irrigation projects have to be done to high environmental standards. There’s a lot of compliance that goes with that,” Mr Bridges said.

Mr Bridges says the National Party would take a different position than the current Government in regards to the issue.

“We think [irrigation projects] should happen. We think it’s good for the productive economy, but it’s also good environmental practice.”

Mr Bridges said that it’s unclear what Environment Minister David Parker plans to do in attempt to reduce the environmental impact of dairy farming.

Minister for the Environment David Parker last week said the Government will "never" introduce a direct cap on the number of cattle farmers can keep.

Instead, he announced that the Government will introduce limits on nutrient run-off from farms.

“I’d like to think that they could be much more consultative and collaborative… [Mr Parker] should let us know where this is going so we can all kind of plan,” said Mr Bridges. 

Watch the full interview with Simon Bridges above.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter’s Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.