Rt Hon Jenny Shipley
Leader of the Opposition
Tuesday 14 November 2000
National launches major heartland tour
National today launched a major initiative to go out to rural and provincial New Zealand and talk about the policies
people want to see for the 2002 election, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.
"Rural and provincial New Zealand are vital to the economic livelihood of New Zealanders. The people in the country
generate much of the wealth that other New Zealanders live on one way or another.
"We've been out in the provinces all year and the time has come for this sort of exercise. A year on from the election
people have had a taste of what the Government stands for and they want to talk to us again.
"National is listening to rural people and working on policies to help them get ahead. The first part of this exercise
is a series of provincial visits which I will be leading before Christmas.
"Then, between March and July 2001 our Agriculture spokesperson, Gavan Herlihy, and the rest of the rural team will
visit provincial and rural areas in a nationwide Agri-Rural Tour. The tour will cover the South Island in March and
April next year, and the North Island in June and July.
"Each of the visits will be preceded by a survey of the people of each region to identify issues of concern, both
locally and nationally.
"We'll be taking the pulse, listening to views and seeing how New Zealand is faring, away from the metropolitan centres
out in the power-house of New Zealand, the heartland. It's a vital job as we work on designing policies to sustain rural
and provincial New Zealand.
"The rural sector has been at the sharp end of many of the pressures the economy has faced in recent years, from the
Asian financial crisis through to the rise in fuel prices coupled with successive droughts in the late 1990s.
"It's totally understandable that rural people have found recent years challenging. We have to find ways to see that the
current better rural returns can be sustained," Mrs Shipley said.