Groundswell wants Stuart Nash to apologise for labelling them anti-vax, racist

The AM Show 22/11/2021

WATCH: Groundswell organisers have said they think Labour Minister Stuart Nash should apologise for his comments labeling the group as anti-vax and racist. They also say the government is not listening to their genuine issues.

The Groundswell protest saw hundreds turn out around the country in what they describe are unworkable regulations on the meat and dairy industry.

After one of the members made headlines last week making racist comments, Economic and Regional Development Minister Nash made comment that the group have become full of racists and anti-vaxxers.

"I'm not too sure what Groundswell stands for these days and that is what I have read on their website," Nash told MPs on Thursday. "It's a mixture of racism, anti-vax, etc."

Groundswell organiser Bryce McKenzie told The AM Show Monday morning that the comments were unfounded and should be apologised for.

"I certainly would like him to apologise because what he said was totally wrong and was definitely said just to discredit us.

"We've never mentioned vaccinations and we don't mention anything racially, we've never done that so where he got that information from, I have no idea."

Groundswell have found themselves having to distance themselves from certain racially motivated and anti-vax comments and signs used at previous protests, overshadowing their core beliefs.

"If you're holding a protest… the membership's not going to stop those people turning up. It's very, very difficult to manage something like that, anyway."

McKenzie went on to say that the government hasn’t met with the organisers to discuss the issues at hand.

"Every conversation is about COVID, so that's going on in the background all the time. Then what we're getting is this raft of regulations, most of them are unworkable or not actually fit for purpose in certain areas - and we feel we haven't even been consulted about them."

He said their queries need to be heard by the government.

"We're actually coming through to Wellington on Thursday. We have a delivery of a number of thousand letters to go to our Minister of Agriculture, Damien O'Connor, who's not going to be there so we're looking for someone else to deliver them to."

The Prime Minister stated this morning she doesn’t agree with the views expressed from Labour Minister Nash.

"What [Groundswell] were originally calling for, in my mind, are absolutely issues that we've been addressing," she told The AM Show.

"I know that, actually, a large part of our primary sector share the same concerns that we do.

"Whether it's issues around intensive winter grazing or area stock exclusion, we've worked really hard alongside the sector to make sure we get those rules right."

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