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$100 Million Grab From Agriculture - Prebble

National's 5 steps package will cost rural New Zealand $100 million, says ACT Leader Richard Prebble.

He says most of the $137 million taken away from Public Good Science to fund '5 steps' was earmarked for important agriculture research.

"Parliament has voted $297 million for Public Good research next year and two thirds of that is research supporting our export primary industries. So if $137 million is taken from the Public Good Science Fund over the next four years, that's $100 million that's being removed from research supporting the primary sector," Mr Prebble said.

"When politicians pick winners, what they don't say is that involves picking losers. National is following Labour in picking agriculture as a loser," Mr Prebble said.

"National and Labour should be upfront and say that they have no confidence in the primary sector.

"Agriculture still provides over half our export income. New Zealand leads the world in aspects of agriculture and to regard agriculture research as backing a loser is a huge mistake. National and Labour are turning their backs on the one area we lead the world in.

"What the government should be doing is vigorously attacking escalating farm costs, most of which are the result of government and local government red tape and bureaucracy.

"There are good things in the package - it's useful for the government to be in favour of excellence, and the level of funding for scholarships in New Zealand has become so low it's ludicrous.

"But overall it's three steps forward and two steps back."



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