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Listening To And Working For Rural People

MEDIA RELEASE
EMBARGOED UNTIL 3.30PM
Thursday 8 July 1999

National Is Listening To And Working For Rural People

Prime Minister Jenny Shipley today welcomed back National MP's John Carter and Eric Roy who have just completed a tour of rural New Zealand.

The MPs have met with and listened to the goals and concerns of thousands of rural people. They also took the opportunity to explain some of the gains the National-led Government has made for the rural sector over the last nine years.

Mrs Shipley met Mr Carter and Mr Roy outside the Wellington Town Hall where National is holding its annual party conference this weekend.

"John and Eric have told me that they were warmly received in all the places they visited. They now have a better grasp of the things that rural people are concerned about. Equally, they felt farming people appreciated the chance to discuss the gains that have benefitted them.

"Farmers have experienced tough times with the recent droughts in the South Island, the 1997/98 Asian crisis and falling international commodity prices.

"MPs on the tour found strong support to continue with the current policy direction that has delivered real benefits for them.

"Farmers want us to lock in the gains of:
· low interest rates,
· low inflation,
· lower taxes,
· lower business costs; and
· lower import tariffs resulting in cheaper goods and services.

"The fall in interest rates is perhaps our most important achievement for the rural sector. For example, a typical Canterbury dairy farmer currently pays about $77,000 a year in interest costs. This is about $62,000 less than they would have to pay if interest rates were at the levels they were 10 years ago when Labour was last in Government.

"The other significant achievement is the reduction in business costs such as killing charges, brought about by the Employment Contracts Act. For example, the cost of processing a 15 kilogram lamb has dropped 20 to 25 per cent in the last 10 years.

"The reduction in import tariffs has also brought huge benefits to the rural sector with a reduction in the costs of farming vehicles and machinery, bailing twine, chemicals, fuel and gumboots.

"These are just some of the things have made a positive difference to farmers and Labour is threatening to take them all away by increasing taxes and Government expenditure that will put pressure on interest rates and inflation.

"Labour has also promised to undo the ACC reforms and repeal the Employment Contracts Act. Farmers have told us they can't afford to go down this track, and have no intention of supporting such a direction.

"During the tour the MPs have taken the time to explain that only a National-led Government is committed to locking in and building on the gains we achieved for the rural sector so far.

"The alternative is a very costly option that will undermine the backbone of our economy and I think people are more aware of what's at stake now thanks to our rural tour."

Mrs Shipley said Mr Carter and Mr Roy would discuss their feedback at the party's annual conference.

ENDS

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