Pāmu made a submission to the Tax Working Group (TWG), particularly given the TWG was specifically looking at environmental taxes, land taxes and capital gains taxes – all of which will have an impact on our 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.
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. 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.
Pāmu will sometimes make submissions on issues where the company has a direct interest – previous examples include a submission on the Emissions Trading Review in 2008, NAIT Cost Recovery in 2011 and the Health and Safety at Work Bill in 2013, along with a range of submissions to various regional councils. We also see this as consistent with taking a leadership stand – in a similar way to, for example, where our stand on Health and Safety issues which has contributed to greater use of helmets on quad bikes on farms and a broader recognition of the importance of safe farming practices.
Following our submission, we were invited to a meeting with the TWG, and other stakeholders, along with Treasury to discuss our submission. All agreed it had prompted useful discussion, which was one of the purposes of our submission.
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. Finding solutions to nitrogen emissions is a key part of that and we are happy to contribute our ideas and experience to that debate. We would also offer the perspective that the contribution of ideas and perspectives helps support the generation of solutions that may not have been surfaced without the richness of broader perspectives.
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 is on record as stating that the societal and environmental tolerance for unfettered and expansionist farming that has insufficient regard for the environment has gone.
At Pāmu we are going to continue to optimise the land use on our farms and utilise the best technology to reduce negative emissions and other environmental impacts while also generating sustainable financial returns. This isn’t easy but nonetheless something we are committed to. To that end we recognise with our size and Crown ownership that we have an obligation to be actively involved in the discussion around these important issues.
Pāmu’s submission on a Capital Gains Tax noted we weren’t opposed in principle but it needed to be well designed and there were various practical considerations that needed to be carefully thought through.