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Out of step on walking access

26 September 2008

Out of step on walking access

Federated Farmers High Country chairman, Donald Aubrey, has slammed Fish & Game for trying to wreck the consensus behind this week's passing of the Walking Access Act.

"Fish & Game's ill-advised filing of court action earlier this week flies in the face of an overwhelming Parliamentary majority. This Act is the culmination of over five year's extensive public consultation that included them," Mr Aubrey said.

"The Act rightly recognises the rights of landholders to negotiate access to land which is environmentally sensitive. This is why Federated Farmers supported the legislation. Fish & Game's challenge puts at risk improved access to our magnificent High Country for all New Zealanders."

"Fish & Game chief executive, Bryce Johnston, has filed for a declaratory judgement in the High Court in respect of the rights attributable to the South Island pastoral leases. These high country properties cover large areas of land and require particular care in their management. Fish & Game seeks the right for his members to wander at will on these privately held properties, in many instances with loaded firearms, at any time of the day or night.

In an earlier media release Mr Aubrey described this move as something akin to 'the wild west of old'.

"It is particularly disappointing to see Fish & Game pursue such an attack on South Island's high country farmers and the hundreds of New Zealand who wish to have safe enjoyment of our high country. Having been party to the walking access initiative, which he now seeks to deliberately undermine, Fish & Game have totally lost perspective over what is important."

"I have received a considerable amount of feedback from Fish & Game members throughout the South Island. They tell me they do not support Mr Johnston's costly bullying tactics. Clearly this approach differs with that passed into law by Parliament."


"I fear for the strong relationship that has developed over many years between high country farmers and recreational users as a result of this action."


At this stage the High Court has set down 28 October to hear this issue. The Commissioner of Crown Lands is set to refute Fish & Game's claim, in keeping with the views expressed by the Minister for Land Information, the Hon David Parker.

ENDS


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