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Govt all smoke and mirrors on land tenure

David Carter National Agriculture Spokesman

6 May 2004

Govt all smoke and mirrors on land tenure

The Government is continuing to hide behind smoke and mirrors instead of coming clean on its plans for the South Island high country, says National's Agriculture spokesman, David Carter.

The Government's Land Tenure Review is currently dictating the future of South Island high country farmers' leases on government land. Thousands of hectares are at stake as Labour decides if it will take the land out of farmers' hands and give it to the Department of Conservation.

"The Government is so desperate to hide its plans that it is still refusing to release official papers on land tenure - two months after they went to Cabinet", Mr Carter says.

He says attempts by him to obtain the papers by way of the Official Information Act procedures are being foiled.

"After I wrote to the silent Mr Sutton on 29 March, and his office accepted the request, he has shoved me off to the Minister of Lands.

"Such stalling tactics by the Minister are unacceptable.

"The veil of secrecy the Government has draped over land tenure is generating farmer uncertainty.

"I'm concerned that DOC, which already carries the tag of being the most irresponsible landowner in New Zealand, has the inside running, and by keeping its plans under wraps, the Government is denying farmers a chance to have their case heard.

"Farmers deserve more than smoke and mirrors from a Minister who is yet again failing to stand up for their interests", says Mr Carter.

Ends

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