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Cullen to meet Federated Farmers

11 December 2003 Media Statement

Cullen to meet Federated Farmers

Finance Minister Michael Cullen will meet Federated Farmers tomorrow to discuss their concerns relating to the foreshore and seabed.

Dr Cullen agreed to the meeting after Federated Farmers approached his office this morning. It was the first time they had approached him directly.

“My door has always been open. All they ever had to do was ask,” he said.

He was responding to claims from the federation’s President, Tom Lambie, that the federation was being shut out from the consultations and that Maori were being given preferential treatment.

“I resent the inference. We have met with Maori because Maori are vitally interested in this issue. But we have also met with other interested parties including the ports, local government, recreational, environmental and conservation groups.

“I am informed that Federated Farmers made an approach to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet seeking a briefing but they only contacted them yesterday and seem to have gone to the media almost immediately afterwards.

“It is hard to escape the idea that they are playing games but I will meet with them out of respect for their membership.

“During the round of public consultations following the release of the discussion document in August, Federated Farmers sought at late notice to have government Ministers attend a series of meetings they were organising around the country for their members.

“Every effort was made to accommodate their demands and we had no complaint from them at the time.

“Once again, we will make every effort to accommodate them,” Dr Cullen said.

ENDS

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