4 Oct 2023

Election 2023: Primary Industries a priority for ACT's red tape review - David Seymour

9:00 am on 4 October 2023
ACT leader David Seymour

David Seymour wants farmers to be set free from a lot of rules imposed "by Wellington bureaucrats". Photo: RNZ / Samantha Gee

ACT leader David Seymour says the country's biggest export industry is tied up in endless red tape that would be unravelled if ACT gets its way in any new government.

He last month confirmed the four sectors ACT's proposed new Minister and Ministry of Regulation, including the primary sector.

The sector would have rules and regulations reviewed so farmers could "get back to what they do best" instead of being distracted by paperwork, Seymour said.

"Many of the regulations that farmers need to comply with are designed to achieve similar objectives and should be simplified to avoid wasted effort. Other regulations were obviously written by Wellington bureaucrats who have probably never worn gumboots in their life," he said in a statement.

"ACT wants to see the rural sector given the respect it deserves. That means letting farmers get on with what they do best."

He announced the party's primary industries policy on a farm at Rotoorangi in Waikato on Wednesday morning.

Several policy planks have been promoted already, including scrapping the Zero Carbon Act and tying any emissions price to that of New Zealand's five main trading partners - saying if farmers in those countries were not paying a price for their methane emissions, neither should New Zealand farmers.

"If we set more aggressive targets than other countries, it will not only harm the economy but also force activity to less efficient jurisdictions, increasing global emissions. That is why it is such a high priority for ACT to ensure New Zealand farmers aren't sacrificed to the climate gods as Labour wants them to be," Seymour said.

Scrapping Three Waters, removing the cap on the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme and bringing back live animal exports were other policies ACT promoted during the last parliamentary term.

The party has lined up the first six regulations it wants to be scrapped:

  • He Waka Eke Noa, which threatens to make Kiwi farmers the first in the world to pay an emissions tax
  • The Accredited Employer Work Visa and subsequent median wage rule, replacing it with demand-based pricing, to "let employers decide if their need is worth the price" rather than ministry officials
  • The Natural Built and Environments Act, Labour's replacement for the RMA
  • Significant Natural Areas
  • The national policy statement for freshwater management
  • The clean car discount, which "punishes farmers just for needing a work vehicle"

"There has been an avalanche of red tape and regulation on farmers. These are just the big-ticket items; every farmer we've spoken to seems to have a fresh example of a new compliance course or form of paperwork they're having to complete to keep the government happy."

ACT said its proposed Ministry of Regulation would work closely with the rural sector to ease the burden farmers were facing.

It also planned to move the responsibility for managing, regulating and verifying farm plans from a ministry to regional councils; reform GE laws, free up water storage requirements and allow councils to opt into a system in which water resource consents would be converted into time-based tradeable water permits so farmers could trade water allocations according to a sensible pricing system.

ACT confirmed much of the policy during Fieldays at Mystery Creek in June. As on that occasion, the party said it was the only one standing up for farmers to help ensure they have "control over how they do things".

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