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Don Brash has no credibility with rural people

Don Brash has no credibility with rural people

Opposition leader Don Brash has no credibility, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said the National Party were the only party that had a bill before Parliament to take land off farmers for access to waterways, and all National Party MPs, including Don Brash, had voted for it.

"The vote was a while ago, so perhaps Don Brash has forgotten that. He needs to check with his own MPs ? it's hard to attack the Government, when his own MPs are putting forward legislation more draconian than whatever they're criticising the government about."

Given recent events, it was a bit rich of Don Brash to complain about "secret agendas".

Mr Sutton said that as had been announced publicly at the time, consultation has now begun to get agreement on measures to improve access to publicly-owned land and water.

"That is that. No secret agenda. No imposed extension to the Queen's Chain. Labour's policy is to go ahead only with measures agreed by stakeholders and landowners.

"This is likely to include the Government paying for signs to show exactly where legal access exists now. The $2 million allocated to MAF for access implementation will be used for that, something farmers have welcomed."

Mr Sutton questioned why Don Brash was so out of touch on rural issues, given that Federated Farmers had praised Labour's rural policy earlier this week.

"Don Brash is no friend of rural people and their communities. When he was in the Reserve Bank, he repeatedly raised interest rates, squeezing the life out of the productive sector.

"Now he is proposing tax cuts that will raise farmers' interest rates and lower their returns by raising the dollar as well.

"The cuts that he will need to make into state sector funding will pull services out of the regions."

Mr Sutton said Labour had delivered on its promises during its six years of Government.

"The history of the National Party shows it is quite happy to lie its way into Parliament. They promised in 1990 there would be no rural school closures unless requested by local communities, and they broke that repeatedly. They said tertiary student fees would be abolished, and fees were increased. They promised to abolish the surtax on superannuation too, and they raised it.

"The choice for voters is clear."

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