Public Road Access Hypocrisy
The government is applying double standards when it unilaterally closes off a public road through a publicly-owned Otago park to protect conservation values, while at the same time removing farmers' rights to control who comes onto privately owned farms, said John Aspinall, a National Board member of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).
His comments follow a farmers' protest over the Department of Conservation (DoC) locking a gate to block access to a public road in Birchwood Station.
DoC argues that it must close off access to protect a fragile environment beyond Canyon Creek, a popular picnic spot on the Birchwood Station. However there is a legal process to be followed and DoC has ignored this.
"The need to protect sensitive areas is one of the points that Federated Farmers has made repeatedly to the government over its access reforms. But the government is nevertheless pressing ahead with plans to force access to private land," said Mr Aspinall, referring to government plans to allow the public, including overseas tourists, a right to roam over private land.
"How does the government reconcile closing off access to sensitive areas on its land on the one hand, while forcing others to be opened up. This is hypocrisy at its most extreme.
"The government must look at negotiated solutions to improving access, rather than impose that right by the heavy hand of legislation," Mr Aspinall said.