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O'Connor: National's Agriculture Policy Seriously Underwhelming

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

23 October 2008 - National's agriculture policy is piecemeal and shows no sign of a coherent plan to see New Zealand through the difficult times ahead," Rural Affairs Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

Mr O'Connor said the most disappointing part of the party's policy was their refusal to drop plans to axe the Labour government's Fast Forward Fund and slash Research and Development tax credits.

"This shows just how out of touch the National Party is with rural New Zealand and our primary sector.

"Slashing these investments into New Zealand innovation will be a huge blow for our primary sector. It is vital we keep adding value to New Zealand through innovation, productivity, brand value and environmental sustainability, helping lift our profile as a leader in sustainable primary production.

Mr O'Connor said it is also concerning that National's agriculture spokesperson David Carter can't seem to get his facts right on his party's policy on the Resource Management Act.

"Yesterday, Mr Carter told Taranaki's Daily News that under National, big environmental projects would go directly to the Environment Court. However, National's policy on the RMA states that major projects will go directly to their newly created Environmental Protection Agency, a point reiterated in the agriculture policy released today. So which is it Mr Carter?

"This is the third gaffe made by a senior National Party member in as many days. First, Maurice Williamson on road tolls, then Lockwood Smith and his narrow minded comments on immigrants, now this from David Carter. Senior National MPs are all over the place.

Mr O'Connor also called for Mr Carter to be explicit about what programmes would be cut to fund their agriculture policy in light of his statement that "The costs will be met by achieving savings within the existing funding for the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry".

"Labour is firmly committed to investing in our primary sector, ensuring innovation, productivity and growth. National fails to show the same commitment with its underwhelming policy announcement today," said Mr O'Connor.

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