There are concerns over whether the level of support for new water storage and irrigation infrastructure would be retained by an alternative coalition government. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Primary industry leaders are eyeing September's general
election with some trepidation, concerned about the
''unknowns'' surrounding the outcome, an industry report
The possibility of any potential alternative coalition
government and its likely policy position towards the primary
sector is a ''top-of-mind'' issue for industry leaders,
KPMG's global head of agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says in
the latest KPMG Agribusiness Agenda.
The report, being released today, is based on a series of
roundtable discussions involving more than 150 industry
The result of this year's election would influence the
potential of the primary sector, Mr Proudfoot said.
The need for the sector to continue to improve its
performance in core sustainability issues, such as water
quality and nutrient management, was not disputed.
However, it was recognised during discussions that while
significant investment had been made to address those issues,
the benefits were not immediately apparent.
There was a concern that the ''lack of runs on the
scoreboard'' might result in a new coalition government
imposing more regulation on the industry and imposing
charging mechanisms for the use of natural capital.
''The industry still has much work to do to deliver a
sustainable future, and time is needed to progress towards
''A key concern is the possibility that the time the industry
needs to resolve its challenges may be reduced or completely
removed,'' he said.
In the past decade, the industry had found it difficult to
get water schemes ''off the drawing board'' and constructed.
The funding initiatives the current Government has introduced
to support the development of new water storage and
irrigation infrastructure had been welcomed by many in the
However, concerns were expressed about whether that level of
support would be retained by an alternative coalition
government, he said.
Concerns were also expressed that a different policy stance
in relation to market access could be adopted.
Whereas trade policy had historically been an area of
cross-party co-operation, there were indications that might
no longer be guaranteed.
Industry leaders had also identified some potential policies
an alternative coalition government could adopt that would
have ''real appeal''.
One positive expectation was that it would take a much more
active stance in promoting sustainable business, with a
particular focus on increasing the investment in research and
development activities targeted at addressing environmental
issues such as greenhouse gases, nutrient leaching, and water
Industry leaders believed it was critical those important
streams of scientific research took place.
The issue of a pan-industry vision and strategy continued to
feature in many conversations, Mr Proudfoot said.
The widely-held belief was that such an initiative would help
the industry in allocating resources, co-ordinating strategic
investments, and engaging with the wider population.
It was also recognised the challenges of developing such a
strategy were significant.
If the primary sector wanted to effectively influence the
policy framework it operated under - after this or any future
election - it must make real progress in informing and
engaging with the urban population, Mr Proudfoot said.
It needed to tell the story about how it operated, what it
was doing to improve, where it required support, and the
contribution it delivered to the economy, he said.
Maintaining a world-class biosecurity system to protect New
Zealand has retained its ranking as industry leaders' top
priority for the fourth consecutive year.