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Land Access: Proceed with Caution

23 January 2003
PR 07 2003

Land Access: Proceed with Caution

Any decision to increase public access to rural New Zealand must proceed with caution, said Federated Farmers National Board Member John Aspinall. Mr Aspinall was commenting on the announcement by Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton that a reference group has been set up to study land access issues.

"Federated Farmers agrees that the current situation needs some clarification, but it is complex and cannot easily be simplified. Presently farmers have control over who comes on to their property, which is important not only for personal safety but also for the welfare of their livestock.

"The farm is first and foremost a workplace. By allowing people to access it more freely not only exposes visitors to risks, but can disrupt effective management of the property which will impact on productivity.

"Farmers are generally quite generous with access to their land but control and communication between the parties is important. Access to private land is a privilege, not a right. Recreational users need to be aware of this, and as such respect farmer's property.

"Free and ready public access to property would create a huge threat for landowners in terms of animal health and welfare, fire risk, health and safety and biosecurity. The recent example of the Beef Measles outbreak on a property in the North Island shows what can happen when someone uninformed has access to a farm. Farming is too important to New Zealand to risk it.

"The Federation is disappointed that the Government did not see fit to liase with them prior to convening the reference group, despite that fact that any changes will impact on the rural sector represented in the main by Federated Farmers, the peak industry body.

"Landowners will strongly resist any efforts to unilaterally reduce their private property rights." Mr Aspinall concluded.

ENDS

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