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Brash announces high country privatisation agenda

Don Brash announces high country privatisation agenda

National Party leader Dr Don Brash’s speech at Molesworth today indicates an agenda to privatise the high country for the privileged few instead of creating conservation parks for all New Zealanders.

“Don Brash appears to have been poorly advised with his misplaced accusations of a Government land grab, un-merited criticism of the Department of Conservation and promotion of whole property covenants,” Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell said today.

“How can Dr Brash accuse the Government of a land grab, when the Government already owns the land?” Mr Hackwell asked.

“The real land grab is the proposal by some high country lessees to privatise the entire high country. Dr Brash appeared to be supporting this proposal in today’s speech to a Federated Farmers conference at the publicly-owned Molesworth Station.”

“It’s ironic that Dr Brash’s speech promoting increased privatisation of the high country occurred at a high county station, the Molesworth, where the private sector failed and the state had to take over.”

“National still hasn’t satisfactorily explained why state house tenants should pay more in rent to the Crown than the majority of high country leaseholders, including Queen Street farmers and international pop stars? We were hoping today’s speech would do that,” Mr Hackwell said.

“Forest and Bird does share Don Brash’s concerns about inflated prices for high country leases. Some lessees are making massive capital gains from selling leases to Crown owned land. This is making conservation purchases very expensive, like the $10 million paid for land to create the Ahuriri Conservation Park,” he said.

“Forest and Bird also shares Dr Brash’s concerns about the capacity of the Department of Conservation to save threatened species, many of which are indigenous to the high country. The Department needs a funding boost and we look forward to seeing Dr Brash’s support for this,” he said.

“However, Dr Brash’s bagging of the Department was way out of line. At Korowai-Torlesse Conservation Park DOC has controlled weeds that spread while the land was farmed. When Clent Hills was handed to DOC, the first thing the Department did was to remove the wilding pines that the lessee had allowed to spread,” he said.

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