Tuesday, 18 December 2018 07:55

Pāmu criticised for playing politics

Written by  David Anderson
Former agriculture minister Nathan Guy. Former agriculture minister Nathan Guy.

State farmer Landcorp has raised the ire of opposition politicians and Federated Farmers over its increasingly overt political behaviour.

Landcorp – now known as Pāmu Farms of NZ – has peeved former agriculture ministers Nathan Guy and David Carter over a previously secret submission to the Tax Working Group (TWG) led by former finance minister Sir Michael Cullen.

In its submission, the state-owned farmer advocated for both a tax on water and nitrogen fertiliser and stated that it was not opposed to a capital gains tax. 

Landcorp’s pro-tax submission is in stark contrast to the views of Federated Farmers and many others in the farming sector. Guy and Carter have described the submission as ‘a kick in the guts’ for rural communities.

“Landcorp’s sneaky submission to the TWG proposing a water tax, nitrogen fertiliser tax and not opposing a capital gains tax proves just how out of touch the state-owned company is with farmers on the ground,” Guy claims.

The former agriculture minister has also questioned why Landcorp could submit to the TWG more than a month after submissions to it were closed off. He believes the state farmer has been encouraged ‘behind the scenes’ by its political masters to present a pro-tax opinion from the farming sector to the tax working group.

Guy is also asking why Landcorp’s submission wasn’t publicly listed on the TWG website until it became public through the Official Information Act. 

Federated Farmers Andrew Hoggard has accused Landcorp of “throwing other farmers under the bus”. 

Federated Farmers rejects these new tax proposals, Hoggard says.

“There’s already a lot of regulations by regional councils focusing on a lot of these issues — managing it that way. Coming in with taxes is sort-of like just doubling up.”

When questioned in Parliament, the minister responsible for Landcorp, Shane Jones, conceded he was not aware of the submission until alerted by media and that he did not know the SOE was promoting environmental taxes. Jones denied there has been political encouragement for Landcorp to make a submission.

However, he conceded the idea for the submission came after Landcorp executives – including its head of environment Alison Dewes and consultant Peter Fraser – met with Treasury officials about environmental taxes.

Both Dewes and Fraser are well-known environmental advocates and have publicly campaigned against irrigation expansion and other environmental issues. Landcorp also has its own ‘environmental reference group’ chaired by freshwater-campaigner Marnie Prickett and including high-profile anti-farming advocates Mike Joy and Forest and Bird’s Anna-Beth Cohen.

It is understood that Landcorp’s chief executive Steven Carden approved the TWG submission and although it was signed off by Landcorp’s board, the board members were not aware of its advocacy for environmental taxes.

More like this

Burning hope for change

Federated Farmers is hoping for changes to the Department of Conservation's (DoC) high country grazing rules in the aftermath of two recent big wildfires in the Mackenzie Basin.

Parker refuses to bend

Southland Federated Farmers vice president Bernadette Hunt says she finds it “interesting” that Environment Minister David Parker continues to downplay the feedback on the Government’s freshwater regulations.

OAD arrives early in Southland

Some dairy farmers in Southland are already moving to once a day (OAD) milking because they don’t have sufficient good pasture on which to graze their stock.

Featured

Meat quota rates remain vital

A jump in the value and volume of New Zealand’s sheepmeat exports to Europe and the UK shows why preserving WTO tariff-rate quotas is so important, claims the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

 

Lamb price down, but not weak

While lamb prices are starting the new season at around 16% below last year’s levels, they are not outright weak, according to the BNZ.

National

It’s all kosher – Taggart

Farmer-owned cooperative Alliance Group says it has already returned $17 million of the $34.3 million it claimed from the Covid-19…

Machinery & Products

JCB releases new loader range

Originally scheduled for a June Fieldays release, which was stymied by the Covid crisis, JCB has recently unveiled its third…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

He's back!

OPINION: This old mutt understands that former Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has landed himself a new gig back in his…

Utu?

OPINION: Your canine crusader understands that the farmer’s favourite politician – Environment Minister David Parker – not content with implementing…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter