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Farmers Lock-Out Public Access to Public Resources

Thursday June 16, 2005
Media Release


Farmers Lock-Out Public Access to Public Resources

Federated Farmers campaign to lock-out the public from access to the outdoors and to try and stop the completion of the Queen’s Chain begins today.

“The Queen’s Chain is part of our national identity and every Kiwi’s birthright,” says Bryce Johnson, Fish & Game New Zealand spokesperson, “and here we have one segment of society trying to deny it. Seventy percent of the Queens Chain already exists and thirty percent of it remains to be completed. The proposals will not remove landowner’s title, provide protection for the privacy of landowners, and it will increase access to rivers, streams and lakes for all New Zealanders”.

“Ever since Federated Farmers drove a tractor up the steps of Parliament they think they can pull off a stunt like this and dictate their own views to the rest of the community.”

“Public access to the outdoors is in need of urgent reform,” says Mr Johnson. “The current laws governing access are a confusing mish-mash. There is little information for outdoor recreationalists in terms of published information, maps and signs. The existing mechanisms to increase public access through the creation of marginal strips and esplanade reserves through subdivisions, have been glacially slow and inadequate. We are seeing the rapid growth of lifestyle blocks which hinder access, and cases of ‘exclusive capture’ by landowners of waterways for commercial ends. Vast networks of publicly owned unformed ‘paper roads’ are being denied to the public – especially because they remained unmarked.”

“Federated Farmers are trying to revert New Zealand back to the landed gentry attitudes that the early settlers came here to escape.”

“The land access reform proposals are pretty moderate, and achieve a balance between public and landowners rights. We are only talking about ‘walking rights’ to those waterways where no Queens Chain already exists, and then only some which have an identified access value. There will, in fact, be a huge amount of farm land the public will have no interest in whatsoever.”

“Where the Queens Chain needs to be completed it is a five metre access strip on waterways, which have an access value, and it does not come out of the title to the land. There will be a ‘Code of Conduct’ with legal authority to require responsible recreation, and to ensure landowners privacy, and protection of stock.”

Says Mr Johnson: “The Government proposals are about ‘walking rights’. The proposals do not include guns, dogs, or vehicles. It is creating an opportunity to walk up the margins of waterways that do not have a Queen’s Chain and then, separately negotiate access across to them with the landowners.”

“Federated Farmers want a ‘blanket no’ instead of trying to resolve this issue constructively and recognise the legitimate rights and expectations of all New Zealanders.”

ENDS

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