'Like a cup of cold sick': Nathan Guy's attack on suggested farmers tax

National's spokesperson for Agriculture is scathing of a submission made to the Government's Tax Working Group (TWG) by state-owned farming company Pāmu.

In the submission, Pāmu - formerly Landcorp - suggested that New Zealand farmers should be paying more taxes, including water, nitrogen and a capital gains tax.

Nathan Guy told Rural Exchange that the ideas have gone down "like a cup of cold sick" and farmers are outraged.

"Landcorp did a bit of a sneaky, no one knew they were putting in a submission," he said.

"They put it in a month late, it wasn't available on the website until I publicly raised it last week."

He told the show he's trying to find out what's going on with the submission and suggested the circumstances may be suspicious.

"We think that the tax working group leant on Landcorp and said 'We want a submission for you and we don't care that they're closed'," he said.

"We're unsure whether the board had even sighted the submission."

In a statement, Pāmu said it made the submission as the TWG was specifically looking at environmental taxes, land taxes and capital gains taxes, all of which will have an impact on the company. 

"We failed to flag this submission (made in May 2018) with the shareholder, which was against the usual 'no surprises' protocol, and we regret that," it said.

"Nonetheless, as a taxpaying New Zealand company, with large land holdings, Pāmu has an interest in the deliberations of the TWG, as do many other companies."

It said being an SOE does not change that. 

"We note that other Crown-controlled companies, such as Genesis Energy and Meridian Energy, also made submissions to the TWG."

Following the submission, Pāmu said it was invited to a meeting with the TWG and other stakeholders along with Treasury to discuss the submission. 

"All agreed it had prompted useful discussion, which was one of the purposes of our submission," the statement read.

"As a company, we have been clear that agriculture needs to take a strong lead on helping New Zealand reduce our environmental foot print this is part of 'doing our bit' to support climate change initiatives.

"Tax settings, including a so-called nitrogen tax, are of course only one possible solution and they need to be thoroughly explored by the TWG but they are by no means the only solution."

Pāmu said its submission on a capital gains tax noted it wasn't opposed in principle, but it needed to be well designed and there were various practical considerations that needed to be carefully thought through.  

Watch the full interview with Nathan Guy above.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter’s Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.