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Budget: Minister Highlights Federation's Argument

Minister Highlights Federation's Argument

Federated Farmers has welcomed Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton's analogy comparing access over private land with roads, said Charlie Pedersen, Vice-President of Federated Farmers.

Speaking at the annual meeting of Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers, Mr Pedersen took the opportunity to respond to the minister's recent statement that Federated Farmers was overreacting to proposals to improve public access to significant waterways.

"Comparing the government's access policy -- and the associated security and biosecurity risks -- with its roading policy brings into stark reality the inconsistency in the government's approach. It has one rule for itself and another for private landowners.

"Roads are purchased by the government under the Public Works Act and through this purchase it obtains access rights allowing itself and councils the right to close roads when they wish. The government's access policy will remove the landowners' right to deny access," he said.

"Ownership of roads gives government and local government the ability to manage all the associated risks such as personal safety and biosecurity. Yet compared with its access policy the government is refusing to allow farmers that same ownership right to control who comes on to their farm and when.

"Councils and government recognise the health risks of the travelling public and together with the private sector provide public restrooms. However there is no provision in the government's access policy for public toilet facilities on farmers' land."

Mr Pedersen believed that when comparing personal security issues, the difference in policy approach becomes much more apparent.

"The government through its police and transit budgets along with local government rates spends millions of dollars annually to protect public safety. But in its access policy there is no indication of any budget to protect landowners from the increased risk of removing the right to challenge the presence of strangers on their land.

"The best way to ensure all risks from public safety to biosecurity are minimised is for farmers to retain the right to manage who can be on their land," Mr Pedersen said.


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