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Molesworth a steal for the Government

David Carter National Agriculture Spokesman

16 December 2003

Molesworth a steal for the Government

The National Party is attacking the Government's plan to put the Department of Conservation in charge of New Zealand's largest farm - Molesworth Station.

"This is a major land grab which will ultimately destroy our best-known high country station," says National's Agriculture spokesman, David Carter.

The Government is tipped to announce on Thursday that DOC will take control of the Crown-owned property once its lease with Landcorp expires in 2005.

"Labour obviously fears a backlash on this. It's clearly had the plan on the table for months, but it has deliberately kept neighbouring property owners in the dark.

"Now it's trying to spin its way out with a so-called "compromise" - by allowing Landcorp to continue farming the property. But DOC's record as a landowner speaks for itself," says Mr Carter.

"Weed and pest control under DOC is virtually non-existent. Currently, it spends around 20c a hectare on weed control for the 23% of the South Island it already controls; Molesworth Station spends $1.38 a hectare alone.

"This piece of New Zealand's high country heritage is a multi-million dollar business that the Government is intent on wrecking," he says.

"Putting DOC in charge of Molesworth will set a precedent for future land tenure reviews over the South Island high country.

"With this decision, the goalposts are rapidly shifting. A huge DOC land grab is underway," Mr Carter says.


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