Thousands of people will be convoying through more than 50 towns and cities in a Howl of a Protest today.
Government policies that negatively impact on farms and farmers have compounded and the ute tax is the last straw.
The protest is being organised by Groundswell which is campaigning against the growing pile of unworkable rules and increasing costs that the government is imposing, instead of working with farmers to get practical solutions.
The protest isn’t about better environmental standards, it’s about better ways of attaining them than those the government has devised.
The Pomahaka Catchment Group has shown the good results that come when catchment groups and Regional Councils work together. That’s a far better model than the National Policy Statement on Freshwater that is top down instead of grassroots up.
New regulations for Significant Natural Areas, wetlands and landscapes trample all over property rights. The QEII Trust is a proven system that’s protected 180,000 hectares already and is far better than anything the government wants to impose on landowners.
The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity is another major concern. This policy punishes all the landowners who have been proactive in conservation, turns biodiversity into a liability and wastes millions of dollars on tick box significance assessments. Councils should be able to work with and support the many landowner initiatives such as the QEII Trust, Landcare and catchment groups.
It’s another land grab that disregards property rights.
Labour shortages were another big issue that are causing a huge amount of stress, impacting production and contributing to food waste.
Overseas seasonal workers should be prioritised through MIQ for rural contractors, horticulturalists, dairy farmers, orchards and vineyards.
These sectors are doing the heavy lifting for the NZ economy, now more than ever and the mental strain of continuous long hours and product loss is a growing and unsustainable mental and financial burden.
The government categorises these workers as ‘unskilled labour’ when they are skilled manual workers who are essential for lots of small businesses.
Then there’s the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations. They would add more costs and reduce production while increasing emissions as less efficient producers overseas ramped up production to compensate for less of ours.
The harm from that is compounded by incentives to turn productive food production land, worked by the world’s most efficient farmers, into forests.
The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill is another example of big-stick regulation that would make farming much more difficult.
The ute tax is the last straw. There are no electric alternatives for these vehicles that are essential for farmers, horticulturalists and many other businesses that service and support farmers including vets and tradies. Then there’s emergency services, rural GPs and midwives, councils, power companies and government departments like DoC and MPI.
The government said it would stop paying the rebate on EVs if the tax on utes didn’t make enough to cover it. But it will keep the tax on utes when it exceeds the amount it has to pay out.
They can call that a levy but if they keep taking far more than they need for rebates it’s just another unfair tax on the productive sector and another broken promise from a government that doesn’t understand the significant and positive economic, environmental and social contribution farming and farmers are making.