Labour and the Greens believe they know best and their bureaucracy and red tape are crushing the rural sector.
ACT says we should let farmers get on with what they do best.
Climate policies should be based on sound science, acknowledging the fundamental differences between methane from livestock and carbon dioxide. Water policies should be tailored to local conditions, rather than one-size-fits-all solutions that impose massive costs for little benefit in many cases.
A Party Vote for ACT is a vote for real change and a more co-operative approach between government and farmers. The environmental efforts of the rural sector should be acknowledged and valued before heavy-handed regulations are put in place.
With the right approach, and ACT’s practical solutions, we can once again see the rural sector as an essential and valued part of the New Zealand economy.
He Waka Eke Noa
ACT’s opposition to He Waka Eke Noa has been clear from day one. New Zealand farmers are the most emissions efficient in the world and ACT is committed to developing a system which reduces the emission intensity of our products while ensuring production is not driven offshore.
- Adopt a split gas emissions reporting approach which accurately reflects the actual warming effect of methane emissions.
- Tie any emissions price to that of our five main trading partners to ensure there is a level playing field for growers and producers competing overseas.
- Ensure farmers are able to offset all on-farm sequestration from their emissions liability.
- Remove barriers stalling the uptake of emissions reducing technologies, such as 3NOP which could reduce methane emissions from cattle but has been held up for years in Wellington.
Resource Management Reform
The RMA is one of the biggest frustrations for farmers. It’s led to a patchwork of plans and rules requiring expensive and lengthy consenting processes. Labour has responded with ever more prescriptive standards and policies and is now pushing through a replacement that’s even worse: the Natural and Built Environment Bill. Under this bill, the Wellington bureaucracy will set rules, and co-governed Regional Planning Committees will implement them. ACT has released an alternative plan that prioritises property rights and local decision-making.
Freshwater and Farming
ACT understands that New Zealand must manage its water resources sustainably and efficiently.
Through Three Waters and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, Labour has centralised control of water resources, creating costly rules that often don’t result in better environmental outcomes.
ACT would bring a practical and local approach. We will:
- Give control of water resources back to regional and local councils, allowing them to work with their local communities to develop acceptable standards and rules for nitrates, sedimentation run off, and freshwater quality.
- Stipulate that environmental standards must focus on outcomes based on science.
- Liberalise water storage requirements to increase farmer resilience to climate and seasonal pressures whilst maintaining aquifer health.
- Allow councils to opt into a system in which water resource consents would be converted into time-based tradable water permits. This would allow farmers to trade surplus water allocations among each other according to a sensible pricing system.
ACT’s approach will allow local bodies, alongside industry, to tailor their water standards, storage, and use across varied catchments. This will ensure environmentally sustainable and profitable production for decades to come.
Labour’s attempt at farm plans as an alternative to resource consenting is another broken promise. It has been three years since farm plans were announced, and yet farmers are still paying for costly resource consents while farm plans are delayed.
ACT would give farm plans teeth, allowing farmers to avoid costly consenting. We will:
- Shift the responsibility of managing, regulating, and verifying farm plans from central government to regional councils.
- Ensure farm plans have a consistent template across different regional councils. Existing plans, such as those provided by processors or industry bodies, can still be used.
- Make regional councils or approved third party verifiers responsible for verifying farm plans. If a farm plan is verified as compliant, and no significant changes occur on the property, or no changes occur within a specified period of time, no further verification will be necessary.
- Require regional councils to monitor environmental impacts of farming, stipulating that a decline in environmental standards must be detected before actions is taken.
- Give regional councils the authority to determine when a breach is acceptable, such as when a natural disaster occurs.
Animal Welfare Reform
ACT knows New Zealand’s farmers have among the highest animal welfare standards in the world. As exporters of high-quality animal protein, New Zealand’s meat and dairy industries continuously self-regulate to maintain a strong position in the global market.
Despite this, Labour has banned live animal exports, introduced costly requirements for the pork industry, and proposed impractical animal welfare codes for beef and dairy farmers.
New Zealand needs practical animal welfare codes which maintain high animal welfare standards without impacting agricultural production. ACT will:
- Allow live animal exports, a half-billion-dollar industry for New Zealand, and require it to operate according to a world-leading “gold standard”.
- Make sure people with practical animal handling and farming experience are appointed to the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC).
Significant Natural Areas
James Shaw’s Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) policy requires local councils to identify areas of cultural, ecological, or environmental significance on private land and set prescriptions on how that land can be used.
This fundamentally undermines private property rights, and fails to recognise existing farmer investment in environmental protection. ACT will:
- Scrap SNAs and restore private property rights
- Create a fund to support local government and communities protecting biodiversity, such as the work undertaken by the Queen Elizabeth II Trust.
Clean Car Discount
Making cheap, reliable cars more expensive for tradies and farmers in a cost-of-living crisis for no environmental gain will go down as one of Labour’s dumbest policies.
Not only does the tax add to the cost of everything New Zealanders buy, it ignores the fact that vehicles are already taxed through the Emissions Trading Scheme. The combination of the ute tax plus ETS charges means people who use petrol get hit with a double tax.
ACT will repeal the ute tax.
It’s critical that New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water and high-quality infrastructure for storm and wastewater. The current system isn’t up to scratch, but Three Waters is not the answer.
Taking water assets away from councils is wrong. Moving water assets from one government body to another is a recipe for more bureaucracy and less local input.
ACT’s plan will allow community control of water assets and improve the necessary infrastructure to ensure safety and efficient water allocation.
- Return water assets to councils.
- Allow councils to enter into voluntary “shared services” agreements, gaining the benefits of scale, while retaining local ownership and control.
- Establish 30-year central-local government agreements to plan water infrastructure upgrades tailored to specific regions.
- Share GST revenue with councils to fund infrastructure upgrades.
- Establish public-private partnerships to attract investment from financial entities such as KiwiSaver funds and ACC.
- Expand the exemption from domestic supply for a single dwelling to also include all small water suppliers supplying fewer than 30 endpoint users.
The immigration system has long been a mess. Employers across the country find it near-impossible to bring in desperately needed workers, and the new Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme will make it even more difficult. The new residency scheme ‘Green List’ provides a fast-track to residency for some but leaves other professions out in the cold. Those who are eligible are delayed by slow visa processing times. The costs inflicted on businesses are serious and escalating. Consumers are feeling the pinch too, as sector wide workforce shortages push prices up.
As an immediate fix, ACT would:
- Provide all occupations on the ‘Green List’ a fast-track to residency by removing the ‘work to residence’ divide
- Simplify the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme by abolishing labour market tests, wage rules, and make it easier for migrants to move between accredited employers
- Remove the cap on the number of places under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.
In the longer-term, ACT will undertake significant reform of the immigration system, putting more power in the hands of employers and providing simple pathways to residency. Policy development is underway and will be released before the end of the year.
ACT’s priority is to repeal the Arms Legislation Act introduced in 2020, including the threat of a firearm register, then set about making the world’s best firearm laws that balance public safety, firearms control, and freedom.
We would introduce another Bill that repeals the Arms Act 1983, and all subsequent amendments.
New Zealand should be able to say that we have the world’s best firearms laws.
The Government’s knee-jerk reaction to Christchurch has done nothing to keep people safe and prevent another tragedy.
New Zealanders for whom firearms are a tool, a sport, an investment in history, and a way of sourcing food, have been treated unfairly under the Arms Amendment Act 2019 and Arms Legislation Act 2020, which resulted in the sweeping changes to firearms laws and saw the confiscation of private property. ACT was the only party to vote against these law changes.
Only ACT has consistently supported the firearms community and spoken out against rushed, poor-quality law making.
- Repeal the six most onerous elements of the Arms Legislation Act 2020
- Introduce a new bill to replace the Arms Act 1983 and all subsequent amendments
- Make it easier for Police to go after the real problem, criminals and gangs