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Agriculture main player in economic growth

Agriculture main player in economic growth

Any push by New Zealand to reach the top half of the OECD will depend on the contribution of the key player - agriculture, says National's Agriculture spokesman, David Carter.

"National's just-released economic discussion paper sets out the pivotal role the rural sector has played in achieving growth in the past decade.

"This paper was released about an hour after Helen Clark admitted her Government can't deliver on promises to return New Zealand to the top half of the OECD in a decade," says Mr Carter.

"The current Government's failed to recognise the importance of agriculture to our economy; it could have made hay while the sun was shining - good commodity prices, good growing weather and - until recently - a very low exchange rate.

"Agriculture contributes 17% of GDP and 60% of total exports, and these contributions having risen steadily over the past 10 years.

"But this Government has let farmers down. It's refused to see the sector can't continue to increase its contribution when it's being hammered by high direct and indirect taxes and massive compliance costs.

"In the last year alone, farmers have been hit with a 4.5 cent fuel tax and a 30% increase in road user charges. And this on top of a big hike in ACC levies.

"With tough times looming for the rural sector, the Government will soon face its first real test in heartland New Zealand. Will Jim Sutton then start to show some interest in this crucial portfolio area?" asks David Carter.

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