National leader Christopher Luxon pitched his case to farmers at Fieldays ahead of this year’s election, saying the party is focusing on common sense policies that advance agriculture.
“We want our farmers to be the best in the world in the next 50 years and we back them big time,” he said.
“They need to be deeply valued and not treated as villains as they have done over the past six years as they have been by this government. We want to make sure we deliver on our climate emission goals but also, we want to make sure we deliver on growing our economy.”
He called the government’s decision to rule out a fertiliser tax proof of it “being all over the show” when it comes to agricultural policy.
“In this Labour government in the last six years this is a country that is utterly, totally and completely heading in the wrong direction.
“The government is wet and whiny and what we have got to do is get our mojo back and show we are a country of aspiration and ambition.”
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins at a news conference at Fieldays later that day said he had not met “anyone who’s wet, I haven’t met anyone who’s whiny, I haven’t met anyone who’s inward looking, I haven’t met anyone who’s really negative – admittedly, I haven’t run into Christopher Luxon yet”.
Luxon said his party had supported He Waka Eke Noa from the start, but the policy had been “shot to pieces” by the government.
“It’s a bit like a bad Monty Python skit with the dead parrot. It’s not there. It’s not working.”
He defended the party’s policy of delaying agricultural emissions for another five years, saying the country can still meet its 2050 goals.
“But we have to do it in a way that doesn’t destroy New Zealanders and the economy.
We have the balancing and the sequencing right. It makes no sense to introduce agricultural pricing at a point when farmers have no tools or technologies or benefits of sequestration.”
He said he believed the sector was on track to meet its 2030 goals, but having access to tools and technologies would make hitting that target easier.
“When Todd [McClay, National’s agriculture spokesperson] and I talk to sector leaders, they say they believe they are on a good pathway and can give it a good shot.”