Monday, February 26, 2024

New govt hits reset on ag policies

Neal Wallace
No fewer than 13 ag policies of previous government earmarked for reversal or review.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon and agriculture spokesperson Todd McClay. McClay says National would place a three-year moratorium preventing full farm conversions on high-quality land into the Emissions Trading Scheme.
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Government paper shredders will be working overtime as the incoming coalition government reverses, replaces or reviews 13 policies implemented by the former Labour administration that directly affect the primary sector.

Nine cabinet ministers, associate ministers or ministers outside cabinet will look after the affairs of the primary sector and its related interests.

The agreement between National, ACT and NZ First also includes a suite of new policies, but one of its first acts is to dismantle and replace regulations that many in the primary sector argued were unwieldy or unworkable.

A common thread in the new agricultural policies is less centralisation and more community input and control. 

The agreement includes repealing the Natural and Built Environment Act and the Spatial Planning Act, and introducing amendments to the Resource Management Act, all designed to make it easier to consent new infrastructure.

Also gone is the ute tax, a review of the Emissions Trading Scheme, the ban on live animal exports and implementation of the Significant Natural Areas policy.

The National Policy Statement on Freshwater (NPS-FW) and environmental standards for freshwater will be replaced and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee amended.

Methane targets will be reviewed next year to assess if there is additional warming from agricultural methane emissions, and there will be a review of the NPS-Indigenous Biodiversity and the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) regulations to place a duty upon harvesters to contain and remove post-harvest slash.

Other incoming policies are designed to assist farmers with greenhouse gas emission reduction mitigation, farm environment plans, irrigation and water storage.

ACT has secured a role for Nicole McKee as an associate minister of justice with responsibility for firearms, along with a review of the Arms Act to assess if it is improving public safety.

NZ First has once again secured agreement for what is now known as the Regional Infrastructure Fund, with $1.2 billion available in capital funding.

Changes are in store for immigration, with an agreement to increase the cap on the number of seasonal workers, changes to the parent category visa and removing the requirement for employers to pay those on skilled migrant category visas the median wage.

Where practical, government agencies will be directed to use wool fibres in government buildings.

Senior National Party MP Todd McClay is the minister of agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing and trade and fellow party MP, Tama Potaka, is responsible for conservation.

NZ First’s Shane Jones is the minister for regional development and oceans and fisheries while Mark Patterson is one of three associate agriculture ministers and also has rural communities. He sits outside the cabinet. 

ACT’s Andrew Hoggard will also sit outside the cabinet and oversee biosecurity, food safety and, as an associate agriculture minister, have responsibility for animal welfare and skills, and is associate minister for the environment.

National Party ministers outside the cabinet are Simon Watts – climate change, Penny Simmonds – environment and Chris Penk – land information. Nicole Grigg is also an associate agriculture with responsibility for horticulture.

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