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New Act 'a sweetheart deal for a few farmers'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A select few High Country farmers have been handed a sweetener from the Government in the form of cheap rents, says Raymond Huo, Labour's spokesperson for Land Information.

"The passing of the Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Act, severely compromises the Crown's right to negotiate fair rents for the high country land it owns. Instead it offers a select few farmers special privileges," Raymond Huo said.

"The Act will allow Crown leases to be determined purely on the "stock carrying" capacity of the land, not the land value.

"Rent for these properties is already set at a relatively low 2 per cent excluding improvements. By cutting this further the Government is forgoing potential revenue which could go towards much needed protection for our fragile High Country environment.

"Many of the farms are going through Tenure Review and as found in the Clayton Report, a small number of farmers, under this legislation, would be in a better position to capitalise on low rentals and make windfall profits when they freehold and on-sell their leases.

"The Act also challenges the legal precedent as provided in the M?ori Reserves Land Act 1997. Before that Act was introduced, M?ori land owners were forced to accept lower than market rents for their land through leases based on unimproved land value with similar perpetual rights of tenure for lessees as exists for Crown Pastoral Leases.

"The Act challenges that legal precedent and creates legal inconsistencies which are out of step with most other commercial entities across the country. Labour cannot support inconsistencies in the law.

"The passing of this Act is yet another instance of the National Government delivery sweetheart deals to a selected few, while average Kiwis struggle to pay the bills and hundreds of thousands are jobless," Raymond Huo said.

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