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Govt. resumes bullying over deregulation: Labour

2000 web siteNational is deregulating producer boards against the will of producers, despite Jenny Shipley's and John Luxton's promises that it is up to producers to decide on their boards' structures, Labour agriculture spokesperson Jim Sutton said today.

Food and Fibre Minister John Luxton has written to the hop growers telling them that "In May 1999, Cabinet agreed in principle to deregulate the production and the marketing of New Zealand grown hops."

But hop growers want to keep their single desk marketing structure and their regulations are essential to that structure.

A meeting attended by 88 per cent of New Zealand's hop growers last month agreed unanimously to a motion stating that they wanted to keep their single desk marketing structure. (see minutes of growers' meeting attached)

"The government should be helping the New Zealand Hop Marketing Board by providing it with the support it needs, not giving it the chop," Mr Sutton said.

"The New Zealand hop industry is small, but it manages to supply almost all of New Zealand's breweries, and still exports 85-90 per cent of its crop overseas. It is grossly unfair to sacrifice this industry to satisfy National Party ideology," Mr Sutton said.

"The industry is exporting successfully. If the government wants to mess with the status quo then the onus should be on the Minister to produce evidence that deregulation would improve the industry. Mr Luxton hasn't produced any evidence whatsoever."

Labour has promised to remove the threat of imposed deregulation.

"Labour in government will continue to support statutory boards, as long as they retain the support of farmers and levy-payers and continue to act in the public interest," Mr Sutton said.

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