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The Government’s cynical consultation process for their Freshwater proposals is lacking in proper process and downright disrespectful, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“David Parker has claimed he has engaged with the sector but this is misleading. Sector representatives had to sign non-disclosure agreements and couldn’t share any pre-announcement detail with any actual farmers. Considering the breadth of the proposals this just doesn’t cut it.

“He has left rural New Zealand just six weeks to try and ascertain what the wide-ranging changes will mean for them at the busiest time of the year. It reeks of a predetermined process and heaps further pressure on to our 23,000 farming families. 

“The Minister has proposed a new bottom line for nitrogen levels that will require a 27 per cent reduction on average across New Zealand with an over 80 per cent reduction in some catchments.

"These proposals are asking our agricultural sector to reduce their footprint by over a quarter, and when questioned about the potential impact of this, all the Minister could say was ‘trust me, I know what I'm doing’. This is an unacceptably cavalier approach to a sector that is responsible for 60 per cent of New Zealand's exports. 

“The Minister needs to provide the consultation process with some basic assessment of what these proposals will cost New Zealand. Astonishingly the draft Regulatory Impact Statement simply says ‘the modelling to date of the economic impacts on farms has been very limited’.

“How much David Parker's proposal will cost is a basic question that the Minister has to at least attempt to answer during the consultation process. 

“Damien O’Connor has been equally cavalier, at one point stating the costs would only equate to ‘one or two per cent’, while under further questioning he admitted this was simply a ‘guesstimate’. 

“This Government has shown they are reckless when it comes to business confidence and New Zealand's export sector. New Zealand can't afford this Government.”

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