The war against the regions

Gerald Piddock writes at Stuff:

Six months have passed since the new Government has taken office and made a vast array of decisions negatively impacting on provincial New Zealand and in turn, farmers.

The list is depressingly long: The ban on offshore oil and gas exploration in Taranaki, the end of government money for irrigation, the loss of air ambulances in Rotorua, Taupo and Te Anau, the refusal to give $600,000 funding to the Rural Health Alliance, regional fuel taxes and just recently David Parker talking up the prospect of nutrient limits – effectively a cap on stock numbers.

And that’s all in just six months. Imagine what they’ll do over three years or even worse six years.

Labour will also almost certainly be campaigning for a water tax in the 2020 election.

Tax, tax, tax.

So after six months, how has the Government performed for farmers and provincial New Zealand? 

Rather than grade them using National Standards gobbledygook, for now, it gets a C+. In the old School Certificate system, that was a bare pass mark.

Too many policies have been announced in the last six months that negatively affect rural New Zealand for it to be graded higher, but it is still early days and its judgment must be measured by that.

The true test of the Government’s commitment to regional New Zealand and to the primary sector will be on May 17 when this year’s Budget is unveiled.

In the past few years, Labour and the Greens have talked plenty of farmers having to transition to practices that lower their environmental footprint and improve water quality.

The amount of cash thrown at  the primary sector in the Budget on this will show literally if they have put their money where their mouth is.

I suspect the C+ will be a high water mark.

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