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Brash’d be an appalling steward of the land

16 March 2005

Brash’d be an appalling steward of the land

Don Brash’s extremist views about the Conservation Department illustrate that any government he led would be a terrible guardian of the land, the Green Party says.

“Don Brash seems to think that the only point of having land is so that you can make money off it. If he became Prime Minister, you can be sure that the conservation of New Zealand’s breathtakingly beautiful landscapes would be dismissed by lunchtime.

“The high country produces some of New Zealand’s best wool, and is some of our most iconic scenic and recreational land. It must be valued for both. To suggest, as Brash does, that any land taken out of farming for other values is making New Zealand poorer is a barbaric attitude to Kiwi culture and values. His views suggest he’d be a completely inappropriate Prime Minister and guardian of New Zealand landscapes.”

Ms Fitzsimons said the National Leader misunderstood the role public ownership played in conservation.

“Brash’s view that public ownership of land is never needed to ensure conservation is just as bigoted as the view that there’s no role for private land owners in conservation. Both public and private forms of tenure are needed and they serve different purposes. Denying this simple fact exposes Don as an extremist on conservation issues.

“Brash’s use of the term ‘land grab’ to describe tenure review ignores the fact that high country leasehold land is owned by the public of New Zealand. The leaseholders do have property rights, which are well recognised by the law and the tenure review process. However, the rights of ordinary New Zealanders to have some of this iconic land protected for its natural and recreational values is less well recognised.”

Ms Fitzsimons said Dr Brash’s DOC-bashing only illustrated his ignorance on conservation.

“Dr Brash fails to realise that not all farmers have been good stewards of the land. Rare flora and fauna have been extinguished by indiscriminate burning. Over-grazing and uncontrolled rabbits have turned some areas into virtual desert.

“Last week, I attended the opening of a new conservation covenant on the late Sir Peter Elworthy’s farm. It is a brilliant example of good conservation practices on private land. But it would have been much more difficult without the expertise and assistance of DOC, who had the knowledge and resources to identify the threatened plants in the Elworthys’ care.”

ENDS

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