Good on Prime Minister John Key going into bat for farmers amid more claims made by Labour that the agriculture sector is not paying its fair share.
Labour says it will now bring agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2013 to fund its $800 million research and development tax credit announced at the weekend.
Labour leader Phil Goff claims the exclusion of agriculture from the scheme was “distorting the economy”.
This comes after the party last week released ‘figures’ claiming the average dairy farmer is paying less tax than a couple on the pension and raised questions about whether the agriculture sector is paying its way.
However, Key has rejected this comparison saying the Labour figures were based on turnover rather than profit, which all businesses were taxed on. This is absolutely correct.
Federated Farmers has also accused Labour of playing games with the agricultural sector again
President Don Nicolson says its latest move is linked with (Labour MP) Stuart Nash’s tirade last week about farmers not paying enough tax
“It’s all designed to discredit the farmers of New Zealand.” Nicolson says Labour should wake up and realise the role farming played in the economy.
Labour appears to be sticking to its guns on targeting farmers with its agriculture spokesman Damien O’Connor continuing to run the partly line about farmers not paying their share.
He claims that under National’s proposal taxpayers will effectively subsidise farmers’ emissions for two more years. Labour believes it’d be better for the money used to subsidise agriculture’s contribution to the ETS spent on research and development.
However, Federated Farmers say Labour’s plan will cost $47,000 per farm and could drive beef and sheep farmers out of business. The is no doubt bringing agriculture into the ETS will raise the costs of milk, butter and cheese for everyone because they would pass the costs on, as the PM has said (and will also happen if National bring farming in to the ETS in 2015).
Under National, agriculture is due to come into the ETS in 2015, but the PM has indicated that a re-elected National government could push that date out further.
Despite generating about half of the country’s carbon emissions, Key said agriculture would not be “thrown to the wolves” if other countries did not get on board. “We are very conscious of the international competitiveness of our export sector. It’s our largest export earner, it accounts for a lot of the potential growth in the agricultural sector in New Zealand and we think our farmers should be competitive.”
Key said farmers already paid a share of the ETS costs because they were big users of petrol, diesel and power. He added that it was more difficult for farmers to mitigate their carbon emissions.
“If you are going to put an emissions trading scheme on them for the methane and nitrate gases that come from the burping and farting of animals when there is no other option, that’s pretty tough on them.”
O’Connor is defending the indefensible. Labour’s attacks on agriculture are petty, envious and using this strategy to drive a wedge between town and country.
The last time Damien O’Connor said something remotely sensible was when he labelled the Labour Party a “gaggle of gays and self-serving unionists”.
However, showing all the spine of a jellyfish – as he currently is in regards to Labour’s attacks on the agriculture sector – O’Connor soon backed away from these comments when the gaggle in caucus put the heat on him. Let’s hope his cowardly loyalty to Labour is rewarded the same as it was in 2008 when voters turfed him out of office.