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Does National stand by its subsidy policy?

22 February 2008 Media statement

Does National stand by its $200 million subsidy policy?

Agriculture minister Jim Anderton is calling on the National Party to clarify whether it still intends to make a $200 million suspensory loan to meat companies to form an export meat company.

The loan was promised by John Key on a visit to Southland last Thursday, the day after it was requested at a dinner meeting between Mr Key, finance spokesperson Bill English and agriculture spokesperson David Carter.

Jim Anderton says National needs to clarify its policy on the loan. “National MP and former trade official Tim Groser must be very embarrassed by this loan. He seemed to be trying to tell the House this afternoon that a $200 million suspensory loan to an export meat company would not be a subsidy. That is not a position he would have taken had the EU tried it on at trade talks.

“His position seems to have put his leader in the awkward position of confirming National has pledged $200 million of taxpayers’ money to help form this company.

“Ever since Jenny Shipley held her mysterious dinner meeting discussing New Zealand tourism advertising contracts, National should have been more careful about making policy pledges to their dinner hosts.

“The episode shows John Key is not ready for government and he will say anything he thinks listeners want to hear. National is hoping they will get a free pass on a policy that would set back New Zealand agricultural policy a quarter of a century and put us in breach of World Trade Organisation requirements.

“National says whatever it thinks will please its audience. It doesn’t get held accountable for its policy promises. It’s getting a free pass. It won’t answer whether it supports the Business Roundtable flat tax policy. It won’t answer whether Joanna Average taxpayer would get the same size tax cut under National as someone on $100,000 a year. And it won’t say if it intends to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise our most important export companies, which we need to be successful in their own right,” Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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