He said that National was attempting to appeal to its base – "Judith Collins' polling has gone down from 35 per cent to 25 per cent. They are trying to shore up their base, instead they are evaporating it".

And Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor was not having a bar of Bennett's comments either.

"It's a stupid statement [which] flies in the face of what most New Zealander's want."

Even James Shaw, Climate Change Minister, climbed into the debate.

"I think it's an absurd statement from someone who is obviously getting increasingly desperate the closer to Election Day we are."

In a press released, the Greens called National's comments "reckless".

The new freshwater rules come into effect on September 3 and follow a period of consultation where – according to DairyNZ boss Tim Mackle – there have been some "significant changes" to the initial proposal.

But some elements of freshwater regulations have come under fire.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young, for example, has urged farmers not to get resource consent for some aspects of winter grazing.

But this morning, the Government made some changes to that part of the policy.

The new rules are around pugging – when wet soil is churned up by heavy livestock, such as cows.

The rules aimed to prevent bogging, which would have animal welfare concerns.

But they have been changed to make them less restrictive around high traffic areas of paddocks, such as fixed troughs and gateways.

O'Connor said these rules, as they stood, were simply not practical and has been changed.