Minister Hits Back at Act Claim

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

Agriculture Minister Lockwood Smith is rubbishing Act's claim that the government is unwilling to tackle the "hard issues" facing the rural sector, such as ACC, occupational health and safety (OSH) and the Resource Management Act (RMA).

"Act is simply wrong," Dr Smith said.

Dr Smith highlighted a number of current initiatives which showed how the government was seeking to advance farmers' interests:

  • A review of ACC charges will see agricultural industry premiums dropping by next year
  • A review of compliance costs is underway, as is a review of legislation such as OSH and the RMA to see if they are working as well as they should. It is hoped these reviews will lead to cost reductions for farmers over the next few years
  • Extensive efforts, such as the recent trade deal with China, are being made internationally to remove barriers to free trade in agricultural products
  • The government is conducting a review of motor vehicle tariffs this year and will review other tariffs next year with a view to eliminating them altogether before 2010. Removing tariffs will lead to savings for farmers and other business people.

"This government is committed to helping where it can to ensure our farmers are as competitive as possible. The National Party, in particular, has a very close working relationship with the agricultural sector, " Dr Smith said.

"We accept that the rural sector faces many challenges but these will not be met by firing off cheap shots in an attempt to score political points."