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Public access step one: enforce the law!

15 June 2005

Public access step one: enforce the law!

Resolving existing conflicts over 'paper roads' would address many local land access issues and minimise the number of new disagreements likely to spring from the Government's wider review, says Jeanette Fitzsimons.

The Green Co-Leader was commenting after questioning Associate Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton in Parliament over a long-term standoff at Murawai beach near Auckland. Carter Holt Harvey have fenced off and illegally planted two generations of pine trees over a legal 'paper' road and are now refusing to swap access rights for an alternative route unless users take out liability insurance for $2 million.

"Local farmer R.G.L Webber raised this with Jim Sutton nearly a year ago, but the Minister told him to pursue the issue 'with your local council or, if necessary, through the Courts'," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"That's an absurd situation; people should not have to fund legal action to get the law enforced.

"Mr Sutton is driving the Government's push to provide public access on new routes through private land, but he seems to be unwilling to get involved in resolving an actual dispute over access where the law is quite clear.

"That doesn't bode well for when the Government tries to sort out the new public routes over private land that will come out of their land access review. If the Crown's approach is to leave such disagreements to the courts, all they will be doing is creating a lot of grievances in the provinces and making a lot of money for lawyers.

"The Greens proposal for a Public Access Commissioner would provide an avenue for people to seek redress and ensure proper signage is put in place to identify the routes they can use," said Ms Fitzsimons.


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