“With the Food Price Index (FPI) showing the largest annual increase to food prices in 34 years, Labour will automatically look for someone to blame, ACT is calling on Labour to instead take responsibility and ease the squeeze on Kiwi families,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The FPI showed a 12 per cent increase to overall food prices in the past year, up 2.1 per cent in the past month.

“Just like they blamed Putin for the past year of constant price increases, Labour will blame Cyclone Gabrielle for this increase. The reality is that the Cyclone has accelerated the increase, but the Government has done nothing to get food prices under control.

“Food prices won’t go down until the Government take the pressure off producers and cuts wasteful spending. Kiwis will happily see the end of projects like Jobs for Nature ($1.2 billion), Auckland Light Rail ($14.6-29 billion) or Let’s Get Wellington Moving ($6.4 billion) if it means they can afford to put food on the table.

“The cyclone recovery will create more pressure and many crops have been lost in the aftermath, but that’s exactly why Labour needs to make the big calls, cancel projects that equate to wasteful spending, and ease red tape so producers can recover.

“Both Labour and National believe the recovery can be paid for through extra borrowing. ACT recognises that will only fuel inflation. The money for recovery should come from existing government baselines, reprioritised. No borrowing should happen until every line has been examined.

“ACT’s fully-costed alternative budget identified $16.3 billion in savings across this year and next. It provides a template for how the Government can afford the recovery without borrowing or taxing.

“Removing red tape and bureaucracy around the clean-up is also necessary to ensure producers can clean up and get back to business as soon as possible. ACT has been calling for a relaxation of the RMA in flood affected areas for weeks alongside industry groups like Federated Farmers.

“There aren’t enough people to work and produce food. Unemployment rates are low, but the labour shortage persists. There should be an uncapped RSE scheme so that there is not a shortage of seasonal workers every year.

“There is plenty the Government can be doing to ease the pressure on households, instead they’ll try and find something or someone to blame. The Government needs to take responsibility and make the tough calls required to get it under control. That’s what Kiwi households expect and deserve.”

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