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Access Casts Pall Over PM's Speech

1 February 2005

Access Casts Pall Over PM's Speech

The Prime Minister should be congratulated for saying she wants to reduce crime, encourage asset ownership, and make New Zealand a more compelling place to invest, said John Aspinall of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"Unfortunately these worthy goals outlined in the Prime Minister's opening speech to Parliament today are completely at odds with a key part of the government's legislative programme this year -- removing land owners' say over who can enter their land," said Mr Aspinall, an FFNZ National Board member and its spokesman on access.

Ms Clark's speech said the government wants to progress proposals for walking access along waterways crossing private land, which is a huge disappointment to farmers.

"Allowing free access to private land will do nothing to reduce crime, encourage asset ownership, and make New Zealand a better place to invest," said Mr Aspinall.

"Though most visitors to farms behave well, there is a minority who do not. Removing the right of landowners to determine who can enter their land will give any person, no matter their character or intent, a government-backed right to wander across farm land at any time of the day or night. Such a right to roam will do nothing to lower the rural crime rate.

"The Prime Minister also talked in her speech about the importance of asset ownership, which provides families with 'greater security, control and independence'.

"I couldn’t agree more. But such talk is hollow when the government is planning to remove the rights associated with owning an asset, as it is doing with its access legislation.

"To make New Zealand a more compelling place to invest, the government must provide a good legal framework, enforce the rule of law, and provide secure title to a property. These statements are self-evident but remarkably the government continues to float policies that bring considerable uncertainty to farmers and their families, whose hard work is crucial to New Zealand's ongoing prosperity," Mr Aspinall said.

ENDS

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