National’s Agriculture spokesman David Bennett has denied he stands to profit from any plans to axe freshwater regulations, despite owning dairy farms himself.
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CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF National's Hamilton East MP David Bennett said a review of freshwater regulations is wanted by the agriculture sector, and he would not benefit personally from any relaxing of those regulations.

Bennett spoke to Stuff in the wake of a Facebook Q&A session he took part in with party leader Judith Collins on Wednesday when she promised that if National forms the next Government, freshwater regulations will be “gone by lunchtime”.

The Hamilton East MP said their call was “simply a reflection of the opinion of the wider agriculture sector” and, as the regulations they had in mind were disproportionally affecting Southland and Canterbury, it would not affect him.


Judith Collins says freshwater reforms will be ‘gone by lunchtime’

Asked directly whether the axing of any regulation would benefit him as the owner of three dairy farms and a drystock property in Te Awamutu, he said “no”.

”It’s nothing to do with me personally.

”We’re reflecting the views of the rural community, the major effects of these regulations is in Southland and Canterbury, no effect on me.

”Opinions we’re getting from around the country.

Bennett said he is hearing pushback from the sector about nine specific regulations and promised a National Government would review them “to see if they’re fit for purpose”.

He also pushed back at the suggestion that as a dairy farm owner, he should excuse himself from any future votes in Parliament on the issue.

”You’d have to excuse most of Parliament if you did that – we’re reflecting the opposition we’re seeing.”

Bennett conceded some of the regulations were “not so much of an issue” but said the more onerous regulations recently passed have been disproportionally hitting some regions.

Bennett’s stance echoed National Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson, who also said the regulations would be subject to a review.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young has also pushed back against the regulations, labelling some “unworkable”.

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