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English sleepwalking at Federated Farmers meeting

National party claims during the Federated Farmers annual meeting in Auckland were laughable, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said it was no wonder rural people felt National wasn't listening when Bill English couldn't get his facts right.

For example, he claimed the Government was spending less money on biosecurity.

"In fact, the Auditor-General quite clearly says that this Government is spending more than $50 million a year more than the previous government on baseline border security funding. Funding for incursions fluctuates, and as was pointed out at Budget time, funding for the painted apple moth programme in West Auckland had not been included in the Budget documents. A former Treasury official, as Mr English proudly says he is, should be able to read Budget tables and understand that ? after all, it was in the accompanying press release material as well.

"Bill may have wished to "get rid of the Dairy Board' when he was in Government, but he didn't do it."

Mr Sutton said the Labour-led Government had kept its promises to New Zealand when elected including those made to rural communities.

"We have facilitated industry changes as sought by those in the industries; we've brought Government services back to rural communities through the Heartland Services Centres; we've tightened biosecurity measures and implemented instant fines for breaches which National refused to do; we've set up the Sustainable Farming Fund to encourage rural innovation ? just to name a few things.

"Mr English is dreaming if he thinks a fight between the Government and farmers over a research levy means that all is forgiven for National."

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