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Labour refuses to front up to farmers

The farming backbone of the Kiwi economy deserves better from their Prime Minister than tomorrow's very public snub to those protesting against the Government's flatulence tax, says National Party Leader Bill English.

"I asked Helen Clark in Parliament whether she'd be on the steps to meet farmers who're frustrated that their opposition to the emissions tax is not being heard.

"She told me she would be in Auckland, and I note that her engagements include photo opportunities at two businesses and an awards dinner.

"At the same time she's attending to that important business in Auckland, those who have helped deliver her Government surplus are taking to the streets of Wellington.

"She's employing the same attitude as her Ministers, who've attacked the rural community as 'whingers' and farmers should take no comfort from suggestions of a looming back-down," says Mr English.

National's Agriculture spokesman David Carter says a number of National Party MPs will be taking part in tomorrow's march which is expected to attract up to 1000 demonstrators.

"It's arrogant of this Government to think they can ignore the anger of the most important sector of the economy without consequences," says Mr Carter.

"Today Pete Hodgson, assuming levels of arrogance equal to his self-proclaimed popular and competent leader, put an ultimatum to farmers - you can either volunteer your money or we will take it from you.

"With Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton overseas, I challenge his associate Damien O'Connor to face up to his constituency and listen to their concerns.

"I hope he can do better at explaining his Government's position than his colleague Pete Hodgson who, in a limp-wristed response to questions on global warming, said 'I am making it up as I go along'," says Mr Carter.

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