Thousands protest Govt regulation in Groundswell movement

Source: 1News

Tractors and utes are among the thousands of vehicles taking part in the second Groundswell protest around New Zealand on Sunday.

Those in the rural sector, as well as urban supporters, are taking to the streets to protest regulation on the environment they say would negatively impact farmers, growers and, in turn, the whole country.

The Government regulations the Groundswell lobby group is opposing include three waters reforms, the national policy on freshwater, significant natural areas, and the clean car package and so-called "ute tax".

The group also called for amendments to the Government’s emissions and climate change policy to be based on different gases’ warming effects, and to stop incentivising farmland into forestry.

Sunday’s demonstration, dubbed The Mother of All Protests, followed a protest in July about similar issues. The phone number of Jordan Williams from the Taxpayer Union is linked to the registration of the Mother of All Protests’ website.

In Auckland's CBD, hundreds drove through Queen Street while tooting their horns. Some waved signs, flags, and one woman wore a ‘MAGA — Make Ardern Go Away’ hat.

One protester said she turned up to support farmers because they were facing too many regulations.

“They’re not listening to anyone,” another said of the Government.

Protesters were told to stay in their cars to adhere to Auckland’s Covid-19 alert level restrictions.

Those taking part in the protests were also told to stick to approved slogans, which included phrases like “enough is enough” and “no ute tax”, after July’s protest featured signs critical of te reo Māori that some called racist.

1News spotted a number of vehicles on Queen Street with anti-vaccination signs.

Protests were expected to occur in about 70 locations around the country, including in Taupō, Nelson, Greymouth, Ashburton, and Stewart Island.

A counter-protest was organised by Extinction Rebellion in Wellington.

Extinction Rebellion argued Government regulation was necessary to reduce the environmental impact of farming.

Dozens of the group’s protesters positioned themselves in front of cars and tractors taking part in the Groundswell demonstration. They were shuffled aside by police when asked.

Extinction Rebellion’s Caz Sheldon, who was at the Wellington protest, said consistent protest was needed because the climate was getting “wrecked” at an “exponential rate”.

It wasn’t good enough that Groundswell was advocating for the status quo, Sheldon said.

In Canterbury, ACT leader David Seymour was among the crowd of thousands.

Speaking through a loudhailer, Seymour said the Government had managed to unite people living in rural and urban areas together — against its own regulations.

Aaron Stark, Christchurch’s Groundswell co-ordinator and a fifth-generation farmer, said the turnout and people’s passion for the cause could be attributed to them not feeling heard.

“The passion behind this and the turnout has been quite an obvious message to the Government: Stand up, listen to your people and listen to your farmers,” he said.