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Action Orange Campaign

10 June 2005 PR 088/05

Action Orange Campaign

Federated Farmers is asking all farmers and other land owners to close off public access over their farms in a week-long protest at the government's access reforms, said Tom Lambie, President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"The government wants to give members of the public, no matter their character or intent, the right to walk on private land along waterways. Farmers are absolutely opposed to this confiscation of their property rights, and alarmed at the increased risk posed to their security and livelihoods," he said.

The 'Action Orange' protest will begin at 1pm on Thursday, June 16 and last until the same time on Thursday, June 23.

"We ask farmers to show their opposition to the access reforms by tying an orange ribbon to their closed gates for the entire week," Mr Lambie said.

"Our provincial network has called for this protest after the government disregarded farmers' concerns. We are absolutely opposed to the public being allowed to walk on private land without the permission or knowledge of the landowner."

Details of the campaign are outlined in a letter to all 18,000 Federated Farmers' members, each of which represents an individual or family, or a rural enterprise. The letters will be arriving in members' letter boxes early next week.

"I have also written to national recreation groups asking them to respect landowners' rights to protest, and asking their members to stay off private land for the week," Mr Lambie said.

"During June 16-23, the federation's land access petition will traverse the country, adding to its already 25,000 signatures. As it moves through each province, local Federated Farmers' members will be carrying out their own protest actions. Other actions are also planned.

"Then, on the 23rd June at 1pm, I have invited Helen Clark on behalf of all political parties to accept the petition at Parliament.

"Most New Zealanders respect others' rights to manage access to the homes and businesses. I hope all New Zealanders will agree with landowners' concerns and stay off private land for the week, and instead walk on the public estate."


Why Farmers Object To The Government's Access Reforms

The government wants to pass a law allowing the public to go on private land without first seeking permission. Farmers are opposed to this. It is a theft of their property rights and an attack on the security of their home and business.

Farmers are opposed to the access legislation because of the:

Impact on farming operations. Farmers must have the final say on who can access their properties, when and under what conditions. This can only be done on an individual, case-by-case basis. The suitability of access arrangements depends on the exact nature of farming activities, land use, climatic conditions and localised hazards.

Personal safety and security of family and staff. Rural crime and violence is rising. The personal safety of family and possessions is a growing concern. Theft of farm machinery, rustling of stock and illegal operations such as marijuana growing, poaching of game, fish and seafood are increasing at an alarming rate.

Security and privacy of home and business. No other business would be expected to provide public access to the factory floor without strict controls. No other business would be forced to expose themselves or their production unit to diseases and pests.

Uncertain liability – for damage caused by visitors to such items as network infrastructure; for road accidents and crop losses resulting from escaped livestock when gates are left open by visitors; for damage caused by fire; for inadvertent injury to visitors resulting from the visitors’ own ignorance and inexperience.

Cost. Public access creates costs for farmers – time dealing with requests, marking access ways, fencing off where necessary, rubbish disposal, providing assistance where people get into difficulties, repairing damage caused to huts, sheds, water tanks, drinking troughs, pumps, drains, fences, gates, pasture, crops, conservation and other environmentally sensitive areas and paying for stock losses.

Flow on and other cumulative effects – greater walking access across private property frequently leads to increasing demand for biking and vehicle access, to cater for an increasingly less active and less fit society. Foot access inevitably brings guns and dogs, both of which present unacceptable risks to landowners.

Biosecurity is paramount to farming. With ever-increasing numbers of overseas visitors the risk of a live organism arriving in or on a person escalates. Access to private land must be controlled.

Attempts to reach a compromise with the government that meets the needs of both landowners and the public have failed. And in response many farmers throughout New Zealand have closed their gates to public access for one week, June 16-23. Closed gates will be marked with an orange ribbon in a show of solidarity.

Join this action by closing your gate to public access for one week, June 16-23, and tie an orange ribbon around that gate in a symbolic show of solidarity.

For updates on the campaign see www.fedfarm.org.nz. To join Federated Farmers, ring 0800 FARMING

Letter to Federated Farmers members:

June, 2005

Dear Federated Farmers member

Please join our justified protest against the proposed access legislation. We want you to show your support by tying an orange ribbon on your gate, and closing your gate to public access for one week, June 16-23.

Legislating to allow the public free access to private land, without compensation to the landowner, can only be described as theft. It's the kind of theft we expect the government to protect us from. Landowners with significant waterways (streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and coastal foreshore) all stand to lose property rights if the general public is given foot access along waterway margins.

We don’t agree that access is a problem, and we don’t think that new law is required. Federated Farmers' surveys show that most people are granted access to where they want to go by asking permission from the owner.

As a compromise, we offered the government our skills to facilitate public requests by developing a Visitor Protocol. But no, the government didn't listen, so the membership sprang into action.

More than 25,000 people have signed our Land Access Petition, which will be delivered to Parliament this month. Working with Federated Farmers' Provincial Presidents and members, we put together an access campaign. I invite you to join this action.

The campaign is highly symbolic and gives you the opportunity to participate. The important thing is that as many people as possible support this action and do their bit. Federated Farmers' staff are here to help and are absolutely committed to ensuring that your protests – whether it be local, provincial or at Parliament – are successful.

As a service to you and all our 18,000 members, Federated Farmers has gone ahead and produced the Visitor Protocol. This clearly sets out the understanding between you and visitors, and is available as a duplicate pad -- a copy for the visitor, a copy for you. There are 50 in each pad available to members for $15.

We have also produced a sticker for your farm gate which says "Ask For Access". The sticker does not obligate you to provide access – it just reminds people they must ask. Using the pad and asking visitors to sign the protocol reinforces this.

I have written to recreation groups asking them to respect landowners' rights to protest, and asking their members to stay off private land for the week. Federated Farmers will also be asking the media to pass on this request to the wider public.

Federated Farmers web page www.fedfarm.org.nz will provide regular updates of our campaign, and email addresses where you can send photographs of you and your closed, be-ribboned gate.

Remember to close your gate to public access at 1pm, Thursday, June 16, and tie an orange ribbon or something else orange to the gate. Leave it closed to public access for one week. Join this protest against the proposed access legislation. The more support we have, the more likely the government and public will listen to our arguments.

Thank you
Tom Lambie, President, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc)

Here's the timeline of events between June 16 and 23. We ask that you join in.

Date Timeline of events - How you can participate in the access campaign
16th June At 1 pm we ask you to close your gates to visitors for 7 days by tying orange ribbons to your gate. If you can, take a photo of you and your closed be-ribboned gate and send it to mail@fedfarm.org.nz and to Helen Clark at pm@ministers.govt.nz.

16-23 June Keep your gates closed to access by flying orange ribbons.
During this period our Land Access Petition will traverse the country. As it moves through each province, local FFNZ Presidents will be undertaking their own protest actions.

23rd June 1pm I have invited Helen Clark on behalf of all political parties to accept the petition and hear how to 'open our farm gates'. This is when FFNZ will launch its Visitor Protocol.

23rd June 1.10pm We are asking all farmers to re-open their gates to access requests by removing the ribbons. If you want visitors to ask for access, use one of the stickers provided. This sticker removes any presumption of access. The sticker also reasserts your legitimate right as an owner of property to expect visitors to ask before entering your land.

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