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Farmers want to see Armstrong report

25 August 2006

High Country Accord
MEDIA RELEASE IMMEDIATE

Farmers want to see Armstrong report

High Country farmers want land information minister David Parker to release as soon as possible a report into methods used to value high country Crown leasehold farms.

Rents paid by high country farmers are based on the valuations which are conducted every 11 years.

A meeting of 140 high country farmers in Omarama on Wednesday expressed its concern that the minister had not kept his promise to release, by the end of June, the report drafted earlier this year by senior valuers Donn Armstrong, Rodney Jefferies and Bob Engelbrecht.

Co-chairmen of the High Country Accord Ben Todhunter and Geoffrey Thomson said they were pleased to hear the advice given by Mr Parker to Parliament yesterday that he hopes to release the report in September.

“We look forward to the realisation of that hope,” they said. “We also welcome Mr Parker’s assurance that the focus of the Armstrong report is on the correct application of existing legislation.”

In a question in parliament yesterday, National Party agriculture spokesperson David Carter asked Mr Parker about the delays in the release of the report which, after missing the initial June deadline, was then scheduled for release at the end of July.

Mr Parker said the delays had been caused by his desire to seek legal advice to ensure that the provisions of the Land Act and the Crown Pastoral Land Act were correctly applied.

In a speech to Federated Farmers on 9 June, Mr Parker said the Armstrong report had been commissioned to find out whether the Crown was obtaining a fair financial return on its interest in high country land both in terms of rentals being paid and during tenure review.

”We want to know whether pastoral lease rental valuations are being established in accordance with the legislation. In other words, is the Crown receiving, and lessees paying, the correct amount of rent for the land being leased?,” he said.

”We also want to find out whether the current methodology used for valuing lessor and lessee interests in tenure review is consistent with the law and is fair to both lessees and the Crown. It is particularly important to have clarity on the rental issue because the government is willing for the Crown to be a high country lessor indefinitely … which is obviously consistent with tenure review being voluntary.”

[ends]

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