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At Fieldays last week, National launched the third in our line of Discussion Documents, this time focused on the Primary Sector.

While sector returns look strong, farmers at Mystery Creek were worried about the conversion of pastoral farm land to forestry, excessive red tape, workforce issues and environmental taxes.

The document showcases our positive and innovative approach to what is the backbone of our economy and highlights areas that we are looking to make changes in.

The New Zealand primary sector contributes over $45 billion and employs over 350,000 people. We produce enough food to feed about 40 million people around the globe. And our reputation as a safe producer of food underpinned by sustainable farming practises is paramount to international consumers. That’s why it’s important we continue to support the sector’s growth and ensure our policy is fit for purpose. As our global population grows we need to produce more food, so it’s important that we have the workforce to manage, develop and maintain New Zealand’s agricultural and horticultural businesses. National are proposing a Primary Sector Visa to address this important issue. The visa would act as an avenue for skilled and experienced migrants to help get residence and build their futures here.

National are aware we need to be providing pathways for young New Zealanders to enter the primary sector as well. Last year the Coalition Government announced the closure of Taratahi, the leading vocational training establishment. We will work hard to support vocational education and agricultural training and ensure young New Zealanders have the skills to succeed in the primary sector.

We’ve also outlined in the document the importance of biosecurity and protection from devastating incursions. Our frontline is under immense pressure with 5.5million people crossing our shores each year and more items flowing through our mail pathways. National are proposing to strengthen biosecurity penalties to deter people from taking unnecessary risks that could have big consequences. This means giving biosecurity officers the power to deport those knowingly bringing in high risk items, ensuring importers are held accountable for signing off Import Health Standards on goods that aren’t free of biosecurity risk items, and increasing fines from the current $400 to $1000 for those found to have risk materials.

Rural health is also a big focus, and we’re committed to ensuring that rural communities have access to core services that meet their needs. The Coalition Government have been letting these communities down with revoking the maternity status of Lumsden Maternity Centre due to funding cuts a prime example of this. We’ve already seen mothers having to give birth on the side of the road as a result of this decision and National have promised to reinstate the maternity status. National have also proposed a mobile health clinic serviced by a health practitioner that travels to remote rural communities on a regular basis. This will provide a ‘warrant of fitness’ health check for patients who may struggle to get into town to see their doctor.

These are just some of the many topics covered in the discussion document. We also want to hear your thoughts on landcorp, climate change, food safety, RMA, water storage and the expansion of plantation forestry on hill country.

To read the document head to https://www.national.org.nz/primary_sector  and have your say on our policy leading into 2020.


Jonathan Young
New Plymouth MP

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