Bay News Editor and reporter for NZME.

Rotorua farmers stay upbeat but disappointed by coalition

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Farmer Neil Heather is worried about possible restrictions on foreigners buying up land. Photo/Stephen Parker
Farmer Neil Heather is worried about possible restrictions on foreigners buying up land. Photo/Stephen Parker

Local farmers are staying upbeat about the change in government and taking the "time will tell'' approach.

The likely axing of a proposed water irrigation tax was welcomed by those spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post while possible restrictions on foreign land ownership and immigration limits raised alarm bells.

Rotorua farmer Neil Heather said ultimately ''time will tell but personally I'm disappointed in the outcome but it is how MMP works and you have to run with it''.

But he was concerned about possible restrictions on foreigners buying land.

"I do have issues in a free market that when a farmer or anyone goes to sell their property they can't get the best price. If that means selling to overseas buyers I haven't got a problem with it so I am concerned if they are going to do a major restriction on that.''

However, the formation of a register for foreign buyers was probably not a bad idea, he said.

"Then we can make an informed decision depending on the numbers... New Zealanders are kind of making assumptions that could be wrong and that is never a good thing.''

Fellow farmer Lachlan McKenzie said he did not agree with the foreign land policy as it seemed like the new coalition was picking on some sectors and not others.

"Good luck to them, I say. Why are they just restricting it to land... what if they want to buy a trucking firm, iconic building or some other asset?''

There were also industries like horticulture and dairying that could not get New Zealanders to work so he had an issue with the immigration limits.

"They rely on overseas labour and we have done that for generations and need those people.''

Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupo provincial president Alan Wills said he did not think there was going to be any drastic change initially and was pleased the water tax would not be introduced.

It's a policy he called "a knee-jerk reaction that wasn't well thought through''.

He also believed Winston Peters had an affinity with rural people and would be a good counter balance to Labour and the Greens.

Meanwhile at a national level Federated Farmers would need to get into dialogue with the new government going forward, Mr Wills said.

Proposed Policies

Foreign ownership: Labour and NZ First have agreed to restrict sales of residential land and farmland to NZ citizens, permanent residents who live in NZ, and companies that are majority NZ-owned. A register of foreign ownership of land will be set up.

Immigration: Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern said she would stick with Labour's policy, which the party estimated would reduce net immigration by 20,000 to 30,000 a year.

Water Tax: Ardern has signalled that Labour would scrap its proposed water tax on farmers as part of its agreement with New Zealand First.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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