New Zealand

Damien O’Connor ignored Freshwater warnings - Todd Muller

Damien O’Connor has sat back passively and ignored the warnings provided to him from his own Government department regarding the Freshwater proposals, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

"Documents released under the Official Information Act have shown multiple instances where the Minister has been warned of the considerable social and economic impacts to farmers of the Freshwater proposals, but the Minister has ignored them.

"Briefings from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in June 2019 warned the Minister that the proposals could contribute to reduced production for milk and meat processors, an increased burden on the mental health and wellbeing of farmers and lower land values and profitability.

"Despite these valid concerns MPI did not conduct any economic or social modelling prior to the release of the proposals, nor did the Agriculture Minister ask them to.

"It is Damien O’Connor’s responsibility to look after rural communities and make sure our farmers are not going to get hammered by his Government’s proposals. It is incomprehensible that he failed to act.

"This is a total dereliction of duty from the Minister, he is being overwhelmed around the Cabinet table and is failing to advocate for farmers’ interests. New Zealand’s farmers deserve better."