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    [caption id="attachment_1205" align="alignleft" width="300"]Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning. Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.[/caption]FiveAA Australia – Nationals Annihilation in Northland – Can NZ First Become The Rural NZ Party? Recorded on 9/04/15. – Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning deliver their weekly bulletin Across The Ditch, and this week they discuss whether the New Zealand First Party, led by Winston Peters, could become the option for rural Kiwis… NZ’s version of Australia’s National Party. Also discussed is a story of hope, of how after ten years disappearance, a man called Danny phoned his family to say he is happy and well.
ITEM ONE: Ref. After the Government was annihilated in the Northland by-election two weekends ago, much punditry has focused on whether the victor, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters can export his winning formula and take other rural seats of the governing National Party in 2017. The interesting challenge is whether New Zealand First can become New Zealand’s version of Australia’s Nationals, and offer political representation to the rural regions and provinces. The loss in Northland was a huge the reality-check, and a humiliation for the Government. Northland was thought by the Nationals here to be true-blue loyalists. It had held the seat for decades. The region is a mix of farming families, service industry, and poverty. It is correct to say the Nationals have neglected the region’s people and businesses, the infrastructure, roads, civil amenities, have been left to disrepair. During the September 2014 campaign, the National Party leader John Key told all of New Zealand we were on the cusp of something very big, something special – the implication was rural New Zealand, and especially farmers, should expect to be rewarded for their farming expertise, investment, and high quality, high levels of production. Milk exports, New Zealand’s white gold, Key said, we going to bring riches of a volume we had never seen. But after the election, commodity milk and powder prices could not sustain global downward pressures. The trade-weighted GlobalDairyTrade price index hit a five-year low in December, and by degrees, Fonterra, the co-operative dairy exporting giant, began reducing the value of returns to farmers. Farmers bank balances were turning red. After his win, Peters was quick to highlighted how some farmers were having to borrow hard to sustain themselves through this downward cycle. He spoke the talk of a representative, in a way no National Party MP had or could. But the question is, not whether NZ First has the leadership or the political ability to become NZ’s version of Australia’s Nationals… But whether it has the party infrastructure to pull off what could be a watershed realignment of conservative politics in New Zealand. ITEM TWO: Ref. NZ Herald Here is a story of hope. This week the New Zealand Herald reported how a “much loved brother missing for 10 years has got back in touch with his family following their appeal in a local newspaper. “John Daniel Tohill, known as Danny, was last seen in Te Puke 10 years ago before seemingly vanishing. “Danny’s family reached out this week in a desperate final attempt to track him down or to find out what may have happened to him.” Shortly after, Danny’s younger brother Tobias Tohill received a call from Danny. ”He just said, ‘yeah, it’s Dan’,” Tobias said. ”He called me last night, out of the blue. He looked me up and got in touch. ”He said he was well and happy and very busy with work. He didn’t offer an explanation though.” For the family, it was clearly a relief as they had thought the worst may have happened to him. But after ten years of struggling with the unknown Danny was alive. Across the Ditch is broadcast live on FiveAA Australia and webcast on]]>



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