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Rural people deserve better than Nats'

16 June 2005

Rural people deserve better than Nats' lack of vision

Rural communities deserve better than the National Party's lack of vision and backward looking policies, Rural Affairs Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

His comment follows National's release of its agriculture policy, which Mr O'Connor said was short on detail and long on negativity.

"They've failed to outline what they would actually do in the areas of agriculture and rural affairs. In the areas where they have said something, they've just re-hashed their old failed policies. Typically, their focus is on rural communities just as money-making ventures, not real people living real lives."

“The proposal to privatise ACC and New Zealand's flagship agriculture entity Landcorp, is a return to the bad old days of privatisation and asset sales and would not help rural communities any more than it would the rest of New Zealand.”

“Landcorp has a big role in training staff who go on to succeed on their own and other people's farms, benefiting the whole industry. Landcorp has the size and scale required to initiate research and development, and to take risks that might not be accepted by smaller farming enterprises."

Mr O'Connor said the Government had worked hard to return services to provincial and rural areas, services cut by the National Government. There had been big strides forward in rural education and rural health provision. Rural communities respected that work, he said.

National’s policy continued to misrepresent the Government's walking access proposal. “This is not an erosion of property rights, but rather a policy to allow all New Zealanders access along publicly owned waterways. This is just one false claim among many in National's misguided attack on the policy." Mr O'Connor said.

Mr O'Connor said he was disappointed in the National Party’s wishy washy policy on other areas, such as trade training.

"As at December last year, there were 1,297 Modern Apprenticeships in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. In Budget 2005 we have put in an extra $63m to industry training. I note the National Party makes no such commitment in its policy."

"Rural people will not easily forget the years of neglect they suffered under National. There is nothing in this policy to indicate that National has any kind of positive plan for our rural communities”.


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