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The Government’s raid on regional New Zealand is ramping up, with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor telling farmers they’ll be taxed thousands for carbon emissions, National’s Nathan Guy and Todd Muller say.

“Mr O’Connor has reportedly told East Coast farmers they’ll be taxed around $5000 to offset their carbon emissions,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“He’s pulling numbers out of the air before the interim Climate Change Committee even begins its work.

“This will rip millions of dollars out of regional economies, leaving farmers with less to spend in their local communities, or for environmental initiatives like riparian planting along their waterways.

“It does nothing but place more pressure on farmers who are already feeling under attack by this Coalition Government. Farmers are already battling with increasing compliance costs and finding skilled labour, and are now facing paying more for carbon emissions and fuel, while getting fewer new roads, as well as having $100 million for irrigation projects ripped from their communities.

“This decision should be about investing wisely in technology not tax. That means partnering with farmers to help provide the ‘tools in the toolbox’ with scientific solutions,” Mr Guy says.

“For Mr O’Connor to stand in front of a room of East Coast farmers and send a clear signal that they will soon be paying for their carbon emissions really calls into question the integrity of the mandate of terms of reference the Interim Climate Change Committee is working to,” National’s Climate Change spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Is the committee going to be truly free to carry out an open minded, objective assessment of the merits of including agriculture in the ETS or is it setting out to confirm a predetermined outcome for the Government? We know what the Greens want but is that in the best interests of New Zealand?

“Mr O’Connor is assuming this is a done deal which makes an absolute mockery of the consultation process that is supposedly planned.

“The Agriculture Minister is talking about the Government making ‘hard decisions’ but it’s not them that will find it hard – it’s the farmers and growers and regional communities who are being forced to pay the price of its mounting bad ideas.

“If we force agriculture into the ETS before this technology is available it will amount to nothing more than another unfair tax on farmers and regional New Zealand.”

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