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Government delivers Kyoto tax by stealth

National's Agriculture spokesman David Carter says the Government is full of hot air when it claims farmers have been exempted from paying for the rushed decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

"Today's release of a discussion document to look at ways of funding research into animal emissions is nothing more than a Kyoto tax by stealth," says Mr Carter.

"At $8.4 million, this is no small tax and it's hardly any comfort for farmers to hear the "levy" could have gone as high as $20 million.

"It's pure spin for the Agriculture Minister and the Minister in charge of Climate Change to claim the agriculture sector has escaped paying the costs of the Government's decision to ratify Kyoto ahead of our main trading partners.

"Forcing farmers to fund research into reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture is nothing more than a backdoor tax.

"And Pete Hodgson's claim that benefits from research will "for the most part, go straight to farmers' bottom lines" is rubbish.

"What about the increased production costs at meat and dairy plants - by their very nature energy-intensive industries - that a carbon tax brings? What about the flow-on impact on farmers' returns through hikes in petrol and diesel prices?

"National warned the Government that its gung-ho approach to Kyoto would put serious pressure on New Zealand's all-important rural sector.

"This levy plan is yet another example of this Government putting its own political interests ahead of the interests of our primary producers," says Mr Carter.

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