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Tenure Review Process Highlights Arrogance

15th March 2005

Tenure Review Process Highlights Government Arrogance

Otago’s Democrats for Social Credit candidate, Richard Prosser, claims that the latest twist in the High Country Tenure Review process illustrates the Government’s cynical disregard for genuine democracy.

“Government has already decided what it wants as the outcome, and it isn’t interested in listening to common sense or opposing viewpoints,” Mr Prosser said yesterday from his Alexandra home. “Their ideologically-driven desire to turn the South Island high country into some sort of theme park won’t help the conservation cause, and it will cost both the farming industry and the recreational land user.”

“For Lands Minister Pete Hodgson to talk about imposing ‘market rents’ on High Country leasehold land is a clear indication of this Labour-led Government’s arrogance and duplicity with regard to tenure review,” said Mr Prosser.

“The land in question can’t be used for anything other than extensive pastoral farming, so by definition, the rents currently being paid by the runholders are already the market rents. For the Minister to suggest that these are somehow untenable and should be up to four times higher, sends a loud message that the Government wants to drive farmers from the High Country. Their intention is to hand this fragile environment over to the Department of Conservation, which has only a fraction of the budget and manpower required to manage and protect it adequately,” he said.

Mr Prosser believed that the existing leaseholders were the best guardians of the High Country. “They keep the weeds and the pests at bay, and 99 times out of 100 they do allow access to members of the public, free of charge. DOC would have no option but to impose a massively costly user-pays regime, or have the difference picked up by the taxpayer.”

ENDS

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