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Tenure Review Needs Scrutiny

Tenure Review Needs Scrutiny

“The Government’s plans for the South Island high country need much closer scrutiny than they have so far received,” said New Zealand First conservation spokesperson, Edwin Perry.

“The process of tenure review has been going on for five years and is supposed to be by voluntary negotiation with Crown pastoral lessees,” said Mr Perry.

“However the Cabinet paper recently released to a farmer lobby group sounds more like a list of ways to coerce lessees into accepting the Government’s terms. Suggested ways of getting farmers to the table include compulsory land acquisition, increase of market rents and whole property purchase.

“This is distinctly undemocratic and raises the question of how far the Government will go to fulfil its aim of creating more conservation parks. The possibility of compulsory reviews for lessees with strategic leases who do not take part voluntarily hovers in the background.

“Further unanswered questions include how DoC intends to pay for pest and weed control on its new lands, whether this will be at the expense of threatened species preservation and whether the relative merits of land for farming versus conservation are being properly assessed.

“The aim seems to be to turn the high country into an enormous tussock theme park for the benefit of tourists and those who enjoy outdoor pursuits.

“Whether this is the Minister of Conservation’s personal ambition or that of the Government as a whole is irrelevant, the review should be put on hold until the taxpayer is assured that DoC can properly maintain another million or so hectares of land. Anything else is grossly irresponsible,“ said Mr Perry.

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