Newshub-Reid Research Poll: Government refuses to budge on taxing new utes despite public opinion favouring farmers

The Government is refusing to budge on taxing new utes despite public opinion being squarely in favour of farmers.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll shows a clear majority of voters want farmers exempt from the clean car fees, and even Green Party voters think the Government got this wrong 

But Newshub can reveal that, although they won't get a break on utes, the Government is looking at other ways to get back on side with farmers. 

Farm work is hard graft. Utes make things run that bit smoother. It's also the tool of the trade to hold the tools of the trade - not something easily achieved in a Toyota Prius. 

Farmers just want Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to get it. 

"We'd be more than happy to show the Prime Minister what we use our utes for every day," Canterbury farmer James McFadden told Newshub. 

Taxing farmers for new utes as part of the clean car discount scheme has become a symbol of Government farmer-bashing. The whole scheme would be nixed under National.

"Yes, the whole thing is a complete mess," says National leader Judith Collins. "We will cancel the feebate and we will cancel the tax on utes."

On this, Collins has public buy-in.

The Newshub-Reid Research poll asked: Do you agree with the Clean Car Discount scheme? And a majority of New Zealanders, 52.6 percent, said no. Just 36.9 percent agreed with it.

"In the early signs of the policy it appears to be working, we've got good uptake on low emission vehicles, and at the same time, the vast majority of people who are in the market to buy utes are unaffected by this policy because it doesn't affect second hand cars," says Ardern. 

Yes, but the Government really messed up in the public mind when it comes to farmers. New imports of high-emission vehicles like utes - be they for a farm or Ponsonby Rd - will be taxed up to $5000. 

The Newshub poll asked voters: Should farmers have been exempt? A crystal clear majority, 68.3 percent, said yes, while a small minority, 21.3 percent, said they didn't think so. 

"Look, right at the beginning of drafting this policy we gave consideration to all those factors," Ardern said, when asked if she would at least consider listening to farmers' concerns. 

"We considered it right from the beginning."

Perhaps they should reconsider, because get this: Labour voters wanted farmers exempt too - 62.4 percent. And even a majority of Green Party voters - 54.1 percent - want farmers given a break.  

"It's better that we just treat everybody equally, regardless of what profession they happen to be in," says Green Party co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw. 

Farmers - and the country - beg to differ.

"It's definitely time for the Government to actually make a lot of changes," says McFadden. "They're just going too fast and there's too much stuff that's unworkable."

And the Government knows it. There's no ute-turn, but farmers, prepared to be wooed.   

Government responds to backlash

The Government knows it needs to charm the red bands off them, so it's relooking at all the regulations it's imposed on farmers and how they might achieve the end goals better. 

We know the Government is taking some action as a result of public backlash revealed in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll. 

The hated Auckland cycle bridge seems kaput, and after the poll, the Government immediately announced talks to get more seasonal workers into the country.

But that snap decision totally blindsided the industry. 

Newshub has been sent a letter that went to all seasonal worker employers from the horticulture industry and they are seriously unimpressed, saying it's all very premature, they weren't expecting the announcement so soon, and they're not ready

So hats off to the Government for acting, but not at the expense of the people you're trying to help. 

Newshub-Reid Research Poll: Government refuses to budge on taxing new utes despite public opinion favouring farmers
Photo credit: Supplied


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