Fury grows in the high country
15 November 2007
Fury grows in the high country: Gov’t “duplicitous”
The High Country Accord is advising its members not to accept a government offer to negotiate rent reductions with farmers who can’t afford to pay, until a legal challenge to the Crown’s rent valuation methods has been heard by the courts.
The government today released the findings of an official enquiry by the expert Armstrong Committee which found that high country rents are being set at levels which are neither fair nor equitable.
However, the government has decided to continue setting rents using a formula for rental valuations which includes amenity values like mountain views for which the Armstrong Committee found “no rent can be legally charged”.
High Country Accord chairman Ben Todhunter says the government’s offer of rent reductions is duplicitous.
“They have cooked the valuation formulas to make rents unaffordable, despite an official report which tells them they are acting illegally. Then they announce that they will negotiate lower rents with farmers who can’t afford to pay,” he says.
“High country farmers are becoming more furious by the day. They pride themselves on being guardians of the landscapes they are privileged to farm.
“So they find it very hard to understand that a government could be so cynical and duplicitous, and treat responsible citizens with such contempt.”