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Action needed after warnings of rural downturn

David Carter MP National Party Agriculture Spokesman

19 January 2004

Action needed after warnings of rural downturn

"Helen Clark's stated economic answer of 'picking winners' condemns New Zealand's agricultural sector to a bleak year," says National Party Agriculture spokesman David Carter.

"If Labour's picking winners, the rural community can expect very little help as it faces up to the prospect of a downturn."

He's commenting on warnings from Federated Farmers that the drought in the South Island is worse than expected and could lead to a downturn.

"As the Kiwi dollar continues its relentless rise, our exporters are under increasing pressure.

"It's been estimated that the currency issue alone will wipe around $400 million from the rural economy, should the dollar remain as high as it is.

"That'll translate to a drop in gross income of around $25,000 for each farm and it will undoubtedly have an impact on spending in many rural towns and regional service centres" Mr Carter says.

"In the wake of the Federated Farmers predictions, Finance Minister Michael Cullen should now finally reveal what his so-called 'options' are for controlling the New Zealand dollar.

"Exporters don't need to be teased with hollow promises of intervention, they need immediate relief from suffocating compliance and labour costs that are strangling economic growth for everybody.

"No-one can predict the weather with absolute certainty, but the Government does have the ability to set a climate that provides some chance of survival," says Mr Carter.

Ends

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