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Has Jim Sutton hijacked Labour's Outdoor Policy?

Public Access New Zealand News
Media Release

Friday, February 14, 2003

Has Jim Sutton hijacked Labour's Outdoor Policy?

From the dismissive manner Jim Sutton continually refers to the Queen's Chain, it appears he is in denial that such an entity exists and that further provision needs to be made.

Public Access New Zealand spokesman Bruce Mason was commenting on the Minister for Rural Affairs' reported references to the "so-called Queen's Chain", now parroted by John Acland, the chairman of a reference group appointed by the Minister to "clarify access" to private as well as public land.

Such dismissive comment appears to be a denial of the existence of tens of thousands of kilometres of public roads, marginal strips and esplanade reserves along our seacoast, river banks and lake shores. These provide the heart of the Queen's Chain. They are all legal entities and public property. "It appears that the Minister has mentally privatised these, and has no intention of creating more", Mr. Mason said.

Rather than bemoaning the fact that "only" 70 percent of qualifying waterways have some form of Queen's Chain, the Minister should be focusing on the 30 percent that don't, and doing something about it. That is what the electorate expects of Labour, and what they were elected to do.

Since 1993 Labour has made specific commitments they would "extend the Queen's Chain", and at one stage introduced a "Queen's Chain Protection Bill". This can only be construed as meaning the party accepts the concept of a Queen's Chain and that it needs extension.

There is nothing in the 2002 Labour manifesto about enacting public "wander-at-will" over all land as some kind of substitute for public reserves. Mr. Sutton promoted this idea when in Opposition but it didn't gain traction. There was no popular demand then and there isn't now. It appears that Mr. Sutton has dusted off his old proposal and succeeded in substituting it for Labour's election policy.

Public Access New Zealand is a charitable trust formed in 1992. Objects are the preservation and improvement of public access to public lands and waters, through retention in public ownership of resources of value for recreation. PANZ is supported by a diverse range of land, freshwater, marine, and conservation groups and individuals. Visit www.publicaccessnewzealand.org for more information.

Bruce Mason PANZ Researcher & Co-Spokesman (03) 447 3554, (025) 358 311, panz@es.co.nz

Bruce Mason Research & Co-spokesman Public Access New Zealand Inc. RD 1 Omakau 9182 Central Otago New Zealand


Phone/Fax 64 3 447 3554 Mobile 025 358 311

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