“The closure of Perry’s Berrys, a major vertically integrated strawberry producer of 40 years’ standing, reflects this Government’s failure writ large,” says ACT Leader David Seymour

“Having supported Francie for years as a constituent in her various battles with poor Government policy, I am incensed at this result.

"Such a large and experienced player exiting the market shows how serious the fallout of the Government's economic system may be this year.

“The Government has failed to consider issues other than COVID, so its COVID response lacks balance. Printing and borrowing money does not substitute for policies that support the production of real goods. Meanwhile the Australians are getting ahead because they opened up to their equivalent of RSE workers in November.

“Francie Perry is an extraordinary businesswoman who’s built up her business over decades. She has been put out of business by a shortage of workers, caused by woeful RSE policy and exacerbated by COVID.

“Cap on the RSE Scheme, that limits the number of workers allowed into the country (Australia’s equivalent scheme does not have one), was always a flawed policy. Not only does it ensure that there are not enough RSE workers, it leads to terrible battles over which businesses should be able to employ how many RSE workers.

“I have been saying for years, as I have witnesses Francie's battles, that the RSE scheme needs reform. However, the Government has not listened. By carrying on with the same failed policy, it subjects producers to massive uncertainty. It is sad but unsurprising that even large and experienced players don’t want to continue in such a mediocre policy environment.

“The COVID era has greatly exacerbated the problem faced by horticulturalists up and down New Zealand. At its heart, the Government’s insistence on keeping the border closed to COVID-free countries such as Samoa has starved the horticultural sector through COVID.

“Meanwhile, Australia has been ahead of us since November. If anyone wonders why their economy grew 3.1 per cent and ours contracted a percentage point in the last quarter of 2020, look no further than examples such as the Government’s handling of RSE policy.