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Pulse of rural NZ - people are angry

Friday 22nd Oct 1999

The real problem facing rural New Zealand is not enough profit for farming families and rural communities to live on.

This is the conclusion of the ACT farmer candidates at the end of an extensive two week tour today.

ACT rural spokesman Owen Jennings has led the Heartland Tour around rural communities in both the North and South Islands.

Speaking from Palmerston, where the ACT team held a farm meeting this afternoon, Mr Jennings said 80% of farming couples in North Otago have one or both partners working off farm because of declining profitability.

"Rural New Zealand is desperate for leadership from government that will tackle the issue of profitability. It's an issue within the power of government to solve, because it's a problem caused by central and local government," Mr Jennings said.

"Farmers can't be profitable while central and local government are giving them such a bad run. The issues of tax, local government costs, and unfair use of the Resource Management Act kept coming up time and time again during the Heartland Tour.

"Here in Palmerston, farming families are fortunate to be able to get additional employment at Macrae's mine, but even this is under threat from environmental interests.

"People are angry. They're prepared to deal with problems in market place but not when government ties their hands behind their back. Government must give them a fairer go, by easing up on taxes and rates and reforming the Resource Management Act so it can't be wilfully misused."

Mr Jennings said the ACT team would make a public report on the state of rural New Zealand next week.

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