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Fed Farmers Show True Colours

Friday June 10, 2005

Fed Farmers Show True Colours And Try To Deny The Queen’s Chain

“Arrogant, selfish and anti-kiwi” is how Fish & Game New Zealand described plans next week by Federated Farmers to close farm gates, tie ribbons on them and deny the public access.

“They are trying to stop public access to public resources – waterways and fisheries,” says Bryce Johnson, Fish & Game New Zealand spokesperson. “This is an extreme action and it will alienate the public.”

“The Queen’s Chain, access along waterway margins, is a heritage all New Zealanders share and should be able to enjoy. It is part of the country’s founding principles. All the Government is trying to do is find a way to complete the Queen’s Chain along the remaining 30% of water bodies that don’t have one in a manner which is fair to both the community and landowners, and here is a selfish section of the community trying to deny our unique heritage. The land access reforms do not remove land from the title of farms, or affect normal farming operations. And the reforms exclude guns and dogs.”

“Besides the Queen’s Chain already exists on many properties without any attributable problems to its existence. And criminals, by definition, are not concerned by access rights or laws.”

“Trampers, canoeists, rafters, big game hunters, four wheel drive enthusiasts, anglers, and mums and dads who want to take their kids on a picnic by the river and go for a swim, should be up in arms at this selfish and alarmist grandstanding by Federated Farmers.”

“The Feds also neglected to mention that New Zealand’s large network of unformed ‘paper roads’, which belong to the public, have been effectively confiscated through defacto ownership by landowners when in fact they are public rights-of-way. How fair is it when a paper road – a public road - has a farm fence or farm building built across it?”

“Federated Farmers deny that access to the countryside is a problem in the same way they denied ‘Dirty Dairying’ and were proven wrong. Perhaps they are more concerned about the public seeing more examples of the negative agricultural impacts on the environment that have recently been revealed by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.”

Says Mr Johnson: “There are now cases where landowners have effectively ‘captured’ public resources, such as rivers and fisheries, for private commercial use by blocking public access. The existing mechanisms to increase public access through the creation of marginal strips and esplanade reserves through subdivisions, are simply not working.”

“An increasing number of overseas people are buying our land, bringing a completely foreign attitude to public access. Similarly our countryside is becoming more and more urbanised with lifestyle blocks springing up everywhere. Traditional public access is being closed down.”

“The Feds talk about property rights being taken away. It is time they realised that there has never been an absolute right to property in the cities or countryside. There is no private property right to freshwater fisheries, wildlife, natural water or paper roads – they belong to the public! They are also wrong about liability. There is no liability upon landowners for people they do not know are on their land.”

“No one is asking for ‘wander-at-will’ or a ‘right-to-roam’. All that is being contemplated here is a public right to walk along the 30% of rivers and lakes that do not already have a Queen’s Chain. Everything else would be by negotiation. And many farms will be of absolutely no interest to the recreating public.”

“Why should the public have to ask permission to exercise a basic right?”

ENDS


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