Hawke's Bay Today
Revving up against feebate
Organiser expects drivers of utes, tractors and trucks to protest against the scheme
There are lot of people for whom a ute is essential to their business. The Government hasn’t properly thought this through
Utes, tractors and trucks are expected to make a lap around the Hastings CBD next week in protest against the Government’s feebates scheme, which will levy high-emissions vehicles to subsidise low-emission ones.
The “Howl of a Protest” events are expected to take place all around the country next Friday and have been organised by Groundswell New Zealand, a farmer protest group.
The Clean Car Discount, or “feebate” scheme, was introduced earlier this month and aims to lift the use of electric cars in New Zealand to help in the fight against climate change.
It does this by charging fees on imported petrol cars to subsidise discounts of up to $8625 for people buying EVs, hybrids and other lowpollution cars.
But the move hasn’t had unanimous support, with rural organisations and the Opposition labelling it a tax on “farmers and tradies”.
Hastings event organiser Chris Miles said he was “sick of signing petitions and talking at dinner parties about all the things we’re annoyed about”.
A friend of one of Groundswell’s original Southland farmers, he was asked if he’d help co-ordinate the Hastings protest.
“I thought here’s a chance to do something positive and make our feelings known.”
He said the movement had come about at an “opportune time” and had gained additional support from those outside the primary sector who were angry about the “ute tax”.
“There are lot of people for whom a ute is essential to their business,” Miles said. “I don’t think the Government has thought this through.”
Groundswell was calling for this to be withdrawn as they consider there is no alternative electric vehicle and they are essential to farmers and tradies, who are “economic heavy lifters”.
Miles said currently available EVutes weren’t practical or well-suited, especially to on-farm activities.
It’s not just utes the group is taking aim at either, he said.
“Groundswell is laser focused on standing up for farmers, food producers, contractors, tradies and councils against unworkable rules being thrust on them by central Government.”
Among recent and proposed legislative changes, the protest is also targeting freshwater and biodiversity legislation, large scale afforestation of hill-country farmland as part of climate change mitigation efforts, and the Crown Pastoral Land Reform bill.
There were also calls for the government to prioritise MIQ spaces for horticulture and dairy industry workers to address labour shortages in those industries.
Miles anticipated there would be several hundred people at the protest. They are expected to park behind his Mitsubishi Triton flat deck ute, which will have a flashing light on top, near Railway Rd at 12pm.
The group will ride along the outskirts of Hastings and Havelock North, returning to the Hastings District Council buildings on Lyndon St where there will be speeches.
Participants were also encouraged to bring their dogs along with plans for a “bark-up”.