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Access panel stalking horse for Labour

Access panel stalking horse for Labour's 3rd term agenda

Gerry Eckhoff Thursday, 4 August 2005

Press Releases - Rural

Jim Sutton still hasn't grasped the fundamental issue regarding public access to private land, which is that every landowner must retain the right to say who may or may not enter their property, says ACT Rural Affairs spokesman Gerry Eckhoff.

The MP was responding to the Minister's announcement of the formation of the Walking Access Consultation Panel.

"This is a property rights issue, not an access issue. Until Mr Sutton understands and addresses that fundamental point, any recommendation from this panel is totally irrelevant," Mr Eckhoff said.

"Without wishing to impugn the individual integrity of each of the Minister's panel, it's clear that John Acland, despite his standing within the rural community, does not enjoy the confidence of the wider landowning community due to his chairmanship of the discredited Land Access Ministerial Reference Group and his often stated personal opinion that there needs to be access legislation.

"The appointment of Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson, who has antagonised landowners with anti-farmer campaigns, is nothing short of provocative. The tokenism that Mr Sutton engages in with this committee will be seen as nothing more than a stalking horse for Labour's plan to put land access back on the agenda after the election.

"The Reference Group established by the Minister to look at the issue of access was also engaged in so-called consultation. That group failed miserably to reflect landowners' opinion and there is no reason to believe this panel will be any better.

"I wish to thank Mr Sutton for making land access an election issue. ACT fought tenaciously against Labour's land grab and will continue to do so. Only a Party Vote for ACT will ensure landowners' property rights are protected," Mr Eckhoff said.


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