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Key sinks to new depths

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

12 March 2008 Media Statement

Key sinks to new depths

National's leader John Key needs to explain to rural and business people why he wants to take $700 million of Government funding off them, Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said today.

He told John Key to stop digging and accept that the NZ Fast Forward fund is the best plan for the future.

"It's quite clear from the overview document distributed yesterday at the fund's launch that it will be in place by July this year and will include a $700 million Government contribution that will be invested in innovation over the next 15 years, running down the capital of the fund. This has been publicly stated by myself and Prime Minister Helen Clark.

"He had a bad week last week and this week is the same. Our fund of $700 million will be spent, plus the interest, which could total $1 billion - What part of that doesn't he understand?

"This is a case where he's wrong again, he's made the wrong call but he can't and won't admit it.

"He's up against the whole food and pastoral sector which has come out strongly in support of this exciting plan for the future."

Only National has opposed the new fund, which features a partnership between the government and the private sector and a $700 million establishment contribution from the government.

Organisations that have issued statements welcoming New Zealand Fast Forward include Business NZ, Dairy NZ, ZESPRI, Fonterra, the Meat Industry Association, Meat and Wool New Zealand, PGG Wrightson. Horticluture New Zealand, Crop and Food Research and many more.

Massey University professor of pastoral agriculture Jacqueline Rowarth said the investment will enable improved recruitment into the industry. "It sends the message, quite simply, that New Zealand's future involves a great industry with great people working in it, rewarded appropriately"

Jim Anderton said the Government issued a substantial amount of documentation to back up the launch of the New Zealand Fast Forward initiative yesterday so that people could be informed.

"Really, John Key should spend some time reading that matter before making a fool of himself."

His refusal to be interviewed today about his opposition to the New Zealand Fast Forward innovation fund suggests he's been told he is out of step with industry over his opposition to the initiative, Jim Anderton said.

"Who has ever heard of an opposition leader who won't be interviewed over his opposition to a government policy? It looks slippery.

"It looks like someone has pointed out to John Key that industry strongly supports New Zealand Fast Forward.

"Imagine if these guys were in government. Policy would fizz backwards and forwards like the piston in a Vespa," Jim Anderton said.


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