The Class Struggles in New Zealand: Workers and Farmers resist Flatulence Tax

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Sun Jul 27 09:07:51 MDT 2003

Tractors clog streets in protest at flatulence tax
26 July 2003

Taranaki farmers fuming at the proposed flatulence tax clogged Stratford's
main street with a tractor protest yesterday. Nearly 30 tractors and trucks
were driven up and down Broadway during lunchtime as supporters gathered
hundreds of signatures from shoppers and retailers. Drivers whose journeys
were disrupted by the slow moving convoy tooted their horns in support.
The farmers are angry the Government intends to impose a levy to fund
research into reducing livestock methane emissions. The tax, which will cost
the average farmer $300 a year, is due to come into force by the middle of
next year. A group of Mangatoki farmers decided on Thursday evening to
organise the protest.

Helen Hoskin said farmers from the district were united in fighting the tax
and had quickly rallied together. Members of the public approached during
the protest had all supported them, she said. "They're disgusted that this
money can be spent on such a ridiculous thing and can't believe it could be
a reality." She said if the Government did not listen to the farmers' plea,
they would continue to protest. Shop owners had offered to collect
signatures during the weekend for the Federated Farmers nation-wide
petition, she said.

Stratford resident Margaret Hiles-Smith was impressed with the protest. "I
fully support it and I hope it makes the Government think about what they're
doing." She said farmers already paid enough taxes.

Huinga farmer Charles Bayly said funding for research should come from the
Government's coffers. "The likelihood of creating an animal that doesn't
emit methane gases is almost impossible."

Taranaki-King Country National MP Shane Ardern, who led the protest carrying
a Fight Against Ridiculous Taxes sign, said the depth of anger and
frustration was clearly visible yesterday. He said the procession of
tractors marked the beginning of the rural sector's fight in Taranaki.
"Labour has made New Zealand a laughing stock around the world. My office
has had e-mails from as far away as California telling me that the
repercussions will be huge if this levy goes ahead." Mr Ardern said the
Government would increase the tax in future years. "This is just the start."
The flatulence tax would be detrimental to the economy, he said.


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