For a Government that has been running around telling anyone who will listen that Biosecurity is underfunded, it has allocated an extraordinarily small sum to strengthen the system, National’s spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.
“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced a paltry increase of just $9.3 million for Biosecurity which is half of what National invested in Budget17 at $18.4 million.
“This is a 50 percent reduction and makes a mockery of the Government’s recent rhetoric.
“If they truly believed in what they’ve been saying lately, they could have injected hundreds of millions of dollars into further strengthening the Biosecurity system - but in yesterday’s Budget they showed this isn’t really a priority.
“Farmers and growers haven’t forgotten Labour and NZ First’s track record on Biosecurity – they voted against National’s border clearance levy a few years ago – which has proved a great success in generating more funding for Biosecurity.
“To make matters worse, Damien O’Connor has raided $100 million from regional irrigation projects - and slashed the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) funding which adds value to primary products.
“All this is occurring in an environment of Government ministers shooting from the hip and making up policy on the fly, which is causing massive uncertainty for the primary industries sector.
“It’s no surprise business confidence has been driven down 23 percent when Damien O’Connor is signalling a climate tax for farmers, significant cost recovery for Mycoplasma Bovis, a slashing of the PGP fund and the announcement the Government will no longer support large scale irrigation projects.
“Ironically, it seems the Primary sector – which is New Zealand’s biggest export earner – turns out to be the Budget’s biggest loser,” Mr Guy says.