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Take Up Jack's Cause

Take Up Jack's Cause

All landowners should follow the courageous lead of Agnes Nicholas and write to the Prime Minister expressing their concerns over any government proposals to legislate increased access over private land, said John Aspinall, a National Board Member of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

Mr Aspinall's comments follow a media report* that the widow of Puketitiri farmer Jack Nicholas had written to the Prime Minister and other politicians last week concerned about the potential changes. Mrs Nicholas took up the cause on behalf of her husband, who felt strongly about the issue.

Farmers and other landowners up and down the country are extremely uneasy about the Cabinet signalling proposals to allow strangers to walk over farm land. Officials are already beavering away to find ways the law can be changed to reduce the ability of farmers to control who enters their farms.

"I urge landowners to express their disappointment at the government developing policy without clarifying the issues or acknowledging the current level of goodwill. Instead of improving access for respectful visitors, the legislation will erode goodwill as landowners lose privacy and security," Mr Aspinall said.

"Unfortunately, I doubt that many of the non-farming community understand why legislating rights of access is such a problem. People must understand this if we are to retain the right to manage who comes on to our land.

"Public expectations that they can access rivers and lakes are important. But access over private land must be negotiated with landowners.

"Landowners also have expectations: to preserve privacy, and maintain security over their families, homes and businesses," said Mr Aspinall.

"Mrs Nicholas' letter shows she obviously feels very passionately about the impact of uncontrolled access over her farm. Other land owners with the same concerns should write to the Prime Minister," Mr Aspinall said.

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