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Dunne - Walking access not 'walkways'

10 June 2008

Dunne - Walking access not 'walkways'

The Walking Access Bill as it stands will disappoint the outdoor recreation community and make the proposed Walking Access Agency's job much harder, says UnitedFuture Leader Peter Dunne.

"The Walking Access Bill currently before select committee does not go far enough to entrench the rights of the public to access public resources such as rivers, lakes, fish and game animals," said Mr Dunne.

"I am very concerned that this Bill fails to advocate for free public access to recreational resources; the establishment of 'walkways' actually downgrades the public's right to use unformed legal roads and restricts those with vehicles, dogs and guns.

"Such a restriction will prevent a huge number of people from participating in outdoor recreation activities. 'Walkways' directly discriminate against hunters, four-wheel drivers and some fishermen.

"The other major problem with this Bill is that the proposed access agency has no formal power to resolve disputes between the public and a landowner, so any opposition to access from farmers will be very difficult to resolve.

"UnitedFuture included in our original submission to the Walking Access Panel a code of responsible conduct to address standards of behaviour for those using public access-ways.

"I am glad the code has been included in the Bill, and I hope it will be strengthened and the agency empowered to use it as an effective tool in addressing issues of trespassing and fostering goodwill between landowners and the public," said Mr Dunne.

ENDS

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