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Sutton must front up for farmers

Sutton must front up for farmers as tougher times loom

National is challenging Agriculture Minister, Jim Sutton, to show his face on farming issues this year, instead of ducking for cover behind his other portfolios.

“Mr Sutton’s been quick to jump on the trade bandwagon with its numerous overseas trips, but he’s left the farming sector in his wake. Rural issues just don’t get a look-in with Labour anymore,” says National’s Agriculture spokesman, David Carter.

“The last three years have given the Government a dream run, and one key reason for this has been the buoyancy and strength of the rural sector.

“But with tougher times looming – the latest National Bank business confidence survey has farmers as the most pessimistic about the future – what the sector needs is strong leadership. It’s not going to get it from a Minister who’s not interested, and a bunch of Labour MPs who don’t understand farming.

“What has this Government given rural New Zealand? A raft of legislation to drive up costs and cripple growth – ACC levy increases, new OSH and Local Government legislation and the ratification of Kyoto.

“Jim Sutton was once a farmer, believe it or nor, so he should know just how much these extra costs to farmers will hurt the rural heartland. Yet he’s content to stand by and watch it happen.

“For example, he failed to even show in the House when the most critical piece of legislation affecting agriculture – Kyoto ratification – was being debated.

“I urge Jim Sutton to get off the sideline this year and show some support for rural New Zealand. After all, this is where the Government’s first big test will be when the economic engine starts to falter,” says Mr Carter.

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