Judith Collins: Govt needs to act on farmers' frustrations

National Party leader Judith Collins is calling on the government to stand up and take notice after a resounding turn out to yesterday’s farmers protest. 

Judith Collins. Source: Getty

A spate of new regulations surrounding waterways and transport, labelled the so-called ‘ute tax’, were the last straws for many farmers who said they were upset they weren’t consulted on the rules.

High-emitting vehicles imported into New Zealand will be hit by a sliding-scale fee from 2022, while low-emitting alternatives will be rewarded through a rebate scheme. 

Rural New Zealanders took to the streets in 51 towns across the country to voice their frustrations yesterday.

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Christchurch farmer Aaron Stark, who organised the Christchurch protest, says farmers are struggling financially and mentally under Labour. Source: 1 NEWS

“Farmers helped New Zealand get through Covid-19 and Labour is repaying them through unworkable freshwater regulations, failing to deal with serious workforce shortages and now it’s hitting them in the wallet with the 'ute tax,'” said Collins. 

Minister for Transport Michael Wood has previously stated their decision to discount greener alternatives by penalising high-emitting vehicles is the “best policy to increase low emission vehicle uptake".

Collins today claimed Labour is using its parliamentary majority as a way to fast-track regulations. 

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“The government’s majority is not a mandate for Labour to promote its ideological wishlist without any discussion or consultation with the New Zealand public. 

“Farmers have been feeling left out and yesterday they loudly demanded the debate.”

The National leader tweeted today all National MPs, bar one on leave and another who was at a conference, were out in force yesterday to show support “and how much [they] value the work our farmers do". 

Yesterday, the party released a new advertisement depicting arrows going up the backsides of farmers while implying the government’s wave of new rules is hitting the pockets of rural Kiwis. 

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The new National Party ad has caused plenty of discussion online. Source: 1 NEWS

While Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor described it as a “consistent National Party” move. 

“It’s just inaccurate, as is many things the National Party say.” 

O’Connor told 1 NEWS yesterday, he’s been talking with farmers for months about their frustrations. 

Farmers take their tractors to the street to protest. Source: 1 NEWS

“We’ve been working through, making changes … there is still a lot of things to work through and we’ll leave the door open for that dialogue with farmers and with farming leaders.”