from Mark Cameron MP

Yesterday we saw two very contrasting bits of news. One is that New Zealand is in recession, the other is that the primary sector continues to be the backbone of New Zealand economy. One is the result of government incompetence, the other is the result of the work of our farmers, the world’s best.

ACT has spent years as a lonely voice in parliament supporting the rural sector. We know that farming, fishing, forestry and agriculture are huge contributors to our nation’s wealth and well-being, and yesterday’s numbers confirm it yet again.

We know that a government which cuts waste, red tape and regulations and let’s farmers get on with doing what they do best is what the primary sector and this country needs. Even with all the restrictions and negativity farmers face you’re knocking it out of the park — imagine what you could do if government and the country got behind you?

Yesterday ACT released its agricultural policy, Standing Up for Rural New Zealand.

ACT is announcing:

  • Scrapping the Zero Carbon Act and tying any emissions price to that of our five main trading partners with the caveat that if farmers in countries who are our biggest trading partners are not paying a price for their methane emissions, neither should New Zealand farmers.
  • A genuine split gas approach, acknowledging the fundamental difference between methane from livestock (a short-lived greenhouse gas) and carbon dioxide (a near permanent greenhouse gas).
  • Shifting responsibility for farm plans from Wellington bureaucrats to regional councils, while ensuring a consistent template is used and existing plans remain valid.
  • Making sure people with practical animal handling and farming experience are appointed to the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC).
  • Removing barriers stalling the uptake of new technologies by liberalising GE laws.
  • Addressing workforce shortages by removing the cap on the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, abolishing labour market tests and wage rules, removing the ‘work to residence’ divide for occupations on the Green List, and bringing back 90-day trials.
  • A new Minister and Ministry of Regulation to prevent pointless regulation and red tape from being introduced.
  • Getting rid of Three Waters and bring back a local approach to water resources by having local communities develop acceptable standards and rules for nitrates, sedimentation run off, and freshwater quality.
  • Liberalising water storage requirements to increase farmer resilience to climate and seasonal pressures whilst maintaining aquifer health. And allowing councils to opt into a system in which water resource consents would be converted into time-based tradable water permits so farmers could trade water allocations according to a sensible pricing system.
  • Bringing back live animal exports, under a world-leading animal welfare standard.
  • Scrap ‘Significant Natural Areas’ and restore private property rights, while supporting local government and communities to protect biodiversity.
  • Scrapping the ute tax.

ACT wants to see the rural sector given the respect it deserves. That means pulling back on the heavy-handed regulation and central planning coming out of Wellington and letting farmers get on with what they do best. New Zealand farmers are the best in the world and they’ve had to confront plenty of challenges recently. But they shouldn’t have to face challenges from their own Government. ACT has stood up for rural New Zealand while in opposition. We’ve stopped the fertiliser tax and made other parties change some of their policies too.

Imagine what ACT will do for you if we’re in government.