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Maori Caucus Should Act On Methane Tax

ACT Environment Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff today questioned why Labour's Maori caucus was maintaining a deafening silence over Pete Hodgson's comments that farmers must raise as yet unspecified amount of money for research into methane reduction.

"Maori stand to be significant losers if the Minister's plans for a `flatulence tax' proceed. Will the Minister also appropriate the carbon credits on Mäori owned forestry as well as tax the significant stock numbers on Maori land? And how will this help the economic advancement of Maori?

"The Maori caucus has the ability to force a rethink on this madness and it should take the opportunity. The Minister has reneged on his earlier promises that there would not be a methane tax. Just last July, he was quoted in the media on the subject of methane tax as saying: "I think trying to tax production as bluntly as that is foolish..."

"The Minister's requirement for farmers to raise between 25 and 30 million dollars for methane reduction research ignores the fact that methane breakdown into CO2 within 10-15 years and is reabsorbed by grass and vegetation. The farming industries' ability to store carbon is being deliberately overlooked.

"Soil carbon has been built up over the years resulting in a huge increase in production. It has been reliably estimated that upwards of 6 billion tonnes is stored in the soil. To tax this industry is unbelievable. To add insult to injury the Minister has clearly indicated the government will appropriate the property rights on private land by not allowing farm forestry to receive carbon credits. All credits will belong to the Government yet the liability for methane emissions will fall to the farmer.

"So much for the Government keeping its word," Gerry Eckhoff said.


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