Farmers would lose much under Labour
Concern is rife in rural New Zealand about what would happen to interest rates if Labour and the Alliance formed the next Government.
Speaking from the Coromandel electorate today, National MP John Carter said the prospect of economic policy being tampered with and forcing interest rates up scares the life out of many farmers and rural people.
"Farmers have an appreciation of what the Government has done to help their cause. They realise that reducing costs across the economy has been hugely beneficial to the rural sector," said Mr Carter.
While Mr Carter makes his way down the North Island on his rural tour, fellow National MP Eric Roy and others are heading up the South Island.
Speaking from North Canterbury today, Mr Roy said farmers remember only too well the 15% interest rates of the late 1980s, under the last Labour Government.
"The message we've been getting is very clear. With product prices not all that great at the moment, it would only take a slight increase in interest rates to bring on huge casualties.
"Wool growers for example, who have also been severely affected by drought, are only holding on at the moment because interest rates are low," said Mr Roy.
He said a small hike in interest rates would make a significant difference to farmers' balance sheets. He pointed out that some dairy farmers are a million dollars in debt.
"Naturally, the Anderton factor scares them no end. Farmers realise the fundamental importance of this year's election. After all, a change of Government could pull some under," said Mr Roy.