• John Luxton
Associate Minister of Agriculture

Hon John Luxton, Associate Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Commerce, today said Richard Prebble was quite wrong to say that the Government "undervalued the importance of agriculture" but right that "compliance costs are too high".

Mr Luxton's comments follow the release of a "blueprint" for the rural sector by ACT today and reported comments of Mr Prebble.

"Richard Prebble is wrong. This Government knows only too well the huge contribution that hard working farmers and their families make to our economy. We value their efforts very much.

"This Government is working hard to help the rural sector, because we know that if we don't get growth from these hard working exporters, we cant increase our standards of living or pay for the social goals of the country.

"Richard Prebble is right about compliance costs though. They are too high and cause a lot of hassle. Not only does the farmer have to cope with the weather and the international marketplace, but also is having an increasing burden of compliance and regulatory cost placed apon them by central and local government.

"The good news for the rural sector and Richard Prebble is that this Government is doing something about it. Earlier this year I announced a major review which includes:

1. Examining certain existing legislation, with officials to report by the specified dates:

Resource Management Act 1991, by 1 December 1997
Building Act 1991, by 1 March 1998
Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, by 1 December 1998
Privacy Act 1993, by 1 July 1998
Human Rights Act 1993, by 1 July 1998
Meat Act 1981, Dairy Industry Act 1952 and related legislation governing food safety, by 1 March 1999
The Employment Contracts Act, Holidays Act, ACC are being considered by the Ministers responsible.

2. Reviewing the Compliance Cost Assessment framework introduced in 1995.

3. We are also looking at further ways of improving the quality of regulatory and legal interventions.

Options being considered:

a code of Good Regulatory Practice, based on the principles of effectiveness, efficiency, equity, transparency and clarity, supported by best practice guidelines for departments;
a Generic Policy Development Process to ensure effective consultation by departments at key stages in developing policy and formulating new regulation;
a Regulatory Responsibility Act which would require Government to certify that proposed regulatory actions are based on robust regulatory management principles;
a Regulatory Impact Statement which would extend the current requirement for Cabinet papers to include a Compliance Cost Statement, to cover the total regulatory costs.
I expect to be able to take a paper to Cabinet on these possible initiatives shortly.

"We are currently also reviewing all tariffs to help ensure that New Zealand families, farmers and other businesses get cheaper vehicles and other goods.

"In addition we have continued to make significant gains and support exporters in trade access issues in international markets.

"Finally, the producer board debate is very much alive as well, despite Mr Prebble's reported comments that it has "stalled". Farmers deserve the opportunity to increase their standards of living and profits that the compliance costs of having political produce board legislation are inhibiting.

"If we want growth for the nation and wealth for farmers we cannot afford to hold this sector back any longer with this outdated legislation. Despite what some critics from the boards may say, I am sure that in the end farmers will win this one. Positive, evolutionary change will occur despite some resistance." Mr Luxton concluded.