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Fart Tax - One more case of mad cows disease

22 August 2003

Fart Tax - One more case of mad cows disease

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to the Waikato Federated Farmers rally against ‘ridiculous taxes’ at Garden Place, Hamilton on 22 August, commencing at 12.30pm.

Despite the medical profession saying there is not a case of mad cows disease in New Zealand, there is, and it’s in the Beehive as I speak.

This Government captured, as it is, by the worldwide Greenies movement, is a major problem for farmers, exporters and wealth creators.

Ministers Hodgson and Sutton have said in other meetings such as this that the greenhouse effect is one of the pre-eminent problems facing the world today.

The reality is however, that regardless of what these Ministers are saying to farmers to justify their ‘levy’, New Zealand’s contribution to the greenhouse effect is less than half of 1% of the worldwide problem

The methane emissions from farm animals makes up 50% of that figure, therefore a miniscule amount.

America contributes 36.1%, Australia contributes 2.1% according to the 1990 Total Carbon Dioxide emissions of Annex 1 Parties, article 25 of the Kyoto Protocol.

Given our very small percentage, this Government has decided to impose a ‘levy’ of $8.4 million per year on farmers for the purpose of funding research to be done in New Zealand into how to reduce the methane emission from farm animals. That is on average about $1000 per farm.

The Government plans to gather the ‘levy’ by charging farmers 0.54c –0.72c per head of cow and 0.09c per head of sheep.

Is this going to fix the worldwide problem? Of course it is not.

Australia and America have not ratified the agreement and nor should New Zealand until they do

These two countries are our trading partners in agriculture.

How are we expected to be competitive internationally when we are being charged a ‘levy’?.

This is just a case of millions of dollars being removed from the rural economy and put into the Government coffers.

We are one of the few countries in the world – along with Russia – who are net creditors of carbon dioxide – so why do we have to pay this tax when others won’t?

Who is going to pay us for creating carbon sinks? China?

Minister Sutton needs to front up with the scientific evidence, and it needs to be sound evidence. Something he has dramatically failed to do thus far. The science behind this measure is shaky at best, it is based on what they ‘think’ is happening.

What will the Government do next? Plug up the volcanoes and cement over the hot pools. They have been emitting methane gas for centuries.

The farming community of this country has extensively planted trees in recent decades. Those trees should count for national credit under the Kyoto agreement and yet typically this Government has singled out our biggest exporters for a pernicious tax.

So the farming community has contributed the national pool of credit and yet they get no credit for that.

And since both the meat companies and Fonterra have said they won’t collect this tax, what will be left after paying for the bureaucracy to make this collection?

But this is a Government that is meddlesome and whacko – that legalises prostitution whist banning cigarette smoking. This is a Government that is soft on mind-boggling dope, and wants to tell restaurants and bars and RSA’s what should happen inside their confines.

But I have to say to the farmers here today that as bad as this tax is and we will repeal it when we return to Government after the next election, and we will, that there is something far worse happening to the farming community and too many of your leaders are guilty for allowing it to happen.

It is the inexplicable silence of your movement to the massive currency movement over the last 12 months.

The New Zealand dollar has risen about 30 percent in the last 12 months.

This has cost you not $1000 per farm but tens of thousands of dollars per farm, yet your leadership seems paralysed to raise the alarm about the enormous damage being done to all exporters.

When last in Government you all know that I moved to get the New Zealand dollar down dramatically, and we did.

Between 1994-1996 our dollar rose 26% and it is all happening again.

Getting the dollar down over 1997,98,99, was the principal reason for farming success. Now all that being placed in jeopardy again and I am asking you all to set your minds against not just this tax but to keep your eye on the big picture. The Reserve Bank Act is again not working for exporters and we need to change that act so that it does.

That is why as justified as your protest is today one wonders why the Reserve Bank Act has not been the subject of any similar protest.

New Zealand’s future is hugely dependant upon your future, so lets make a commitment today to not just talk about it but ensure that you get a Government that does something about it.


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