Budget strengthens rural communities in crises

Government Media Release

4 May 2007

Rural communities will benefit from a Budget allocation of $2.3 million over the next four years," Leader of the Progressive Party and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton announced today. "It will be used to develop local capacity to respond to adverse climatic events and to assist with risk reduction and readiness issues. With a changing climate and more extreme weather predicted, local capacity to cope with such events will be increasingly important."

This initiative complements the review of the On-farm Adverse Events Recovery Framework also announced today. "The Framework has been revised to provide certainty to affected individuals, families and communities over the nature of support they can expect from central government. It is important that the rules are clear, transparent and fair," he said.

The Minister made this pre-Budget announcement in Waitangi, speaking at the Northland Pastoral Development Group Conference.

The Framework ensures that Government support is given in such a way as to strengthen individuals' and communities' primary responsibility for risk management and preparedness. Those with good risk management plans in place are better placed to recover from the effects of adverse events when they do occur, so it is important that we don't discourage personal responsibility."

Normal Task Force Green and Enhanced Task Force Green assistance will continue as before. "This has been very successful and useful for many farmers for clean-up and repairs," Jim Anderton said. "And we remain committed to making sure that family welfare needs are also met. Depending on the scale of the event, that can include assistance through Inland Revenue, Rural Assistance Payments or New Start Grants.

"However, individuals have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to look after their families and their assets. It is unrealistic to expect that the Government should always be an insurer of last resort.

"In major events, where it is beyond the ability of the local community to manage, the Government will step in even further. In other words, if the wider regional community and economy are at risk, as they were following the February 2004 floods in the Manawatu, Wanganui and Rangitikei, the Government will provide extra recovery measures.

"This assistance will target restoration of uninsurable damage to infrastructure, pastures, crops and forestry plantations. Individual businesses will receive assistance at a rate of 50% of qualifying restoration costs – a threshold of $10,000, or 10% of qualifying costs, and a cap of $250,000 will be applied. These Special Recovery Measures will assist an affected regional economy to get back on its feet quickly," Jim Anderton said.

"The primary production sector has always had a strong risk management ethos, but there are further ways to strengthen the ability of rural communities themselves to respond to and recover from floods or other natural disasters."

The Labour-Progressive Government recognises the importance of Rural Support Trusts, which play an important part in providing response and recovery capability. This Budget provides $2.3 m over the next 4 years to support work that will strengthen the existing Trusts and new support organisations," Jim Anderton said. "The intention is to have an effective organisation in all regions. While they would be largely autonomous, we would like to see them linked nationally, particularly in sharing experiences and best practice initiatives."

Contact:

Jim Anderton on 021 777 680 or
Liz Grant (Press Secretary) on 04 4719172, Mobile: 021 2279172
Email Liz.Grant@parliament.govt.nz
www.beehive.govt.nz  www.progressiveparty.org.nz

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