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Blackmailing Farmers With Govt Kyoto Tax Threat

9 April 2002

Government Blackmailing Farmers With Its Kyoto Tax Threat

"Farmers are going to have to pay for the Labour-led Government's rush to ratify the Kyoto Protocol ahead of key agriculture competitors," says National's Agriculture spokesman Gavan Herlihy.

Mr Herlihy's comments follow reports today that farmers could be hit with a $30-million annual Kyoto tax to fund research into reducing agriculture's methane gas production.

"Pete Hodgson's veiled threat of imposing a Kyoto tax - calculated on volumes of meat, wool and milk produced - unless the agriculture sector funds the research itself, is nothing short of economic blackmail and this will not impress farmers.

"The Government seems determined to sign New Zealand up to the Kyoto Protocol no matter what the costs are to the country's productive sector."

However, Gavan Herlihy says the estimated $30 million annual Kyoto tax is not the only cost the agriculture sector is likely to face from early ratification.

"A carbon tax on energy will mean an increase in fuel prices and transportation costs of getting produce on and off farm.

"Farmers also likely to wear increased processing charges. With dairy and meat processing plants intensive carbon energy users, the primary sector will face big costs in finding alternatives to fossil fuels and reducing these industries carbon gas emissions."

He says National has warned that the Government's rush to ratify Kyoto will hand a competitive advantage to non-ratified competing countries - especially key agricultural rivals such as Australia and the US.

"New Zealand's farmers are going to face Government-imposed cost to meet Kyoto demands that their Australian counterparts will not be saddled with.

"We believe in putting New Zealand's interests first. That's why a National Government will only ratify after developing an open assessment of all the costs, ensuring that we move in parallel with our Asian-Pacific trading partners," Gavan Herlihy concluded.

Ends

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