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Government Listens To Rural Concerns

29 June 2005

Government Listens To Rural Concerns

Federated Farmers welcomes the government reopening consultation on its controversial access reforms, said John Aspinall, the land access spokesman for Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

The government said in a brief statement today it would carry out more consultation with major stakeholders "in search of greater consensus" on public access.

"The prospect of more consultation is applauded. Federated Farmers will make the most of this opportunity to convince government why legislated right of access across private land is unacceptable to land owners, and explain how the reforms will restrict rather than improve public access," Mr Aspinall said.

"Though the media is reporting that the government has backed down from its reforms, we are not so sure. It is highly possible that the current reforms will re-emerge with very few changes. The proposals might be on the backburner, but they are not off the stove," Mr Aspinall said.

"In future consultation, we will be asking the government to first prove that there is a problem with the existing arrangement whereby the public first asks for access, and it is very nearly always granted.

"If there are problems with access, let's identify them on a case-by-case basis and work through ways of improving access using a voluntary mechanism," Mr Aspinall said.

Federated Farmers last week launched a voluntary Visitor Access Protocol to assist land owners manage visitors who want to access private land, and clarify the responsibilities of both owners and visitors.

"In further consultation we will also be insisting that the proposed access agency should be a voluntary organisation, like the highly successful QE II Trust.

"We said last week that the Action Orange campaign has not ended. It will continue until the government ditches its policy of allowing anybody, no matter their character or intent, to walk on private land. 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.

Many urban people (according to the New Zealand Herald poll published today), the Law Society, other land owner groups, and some recreational groups share these concerns. For more information on the Action Orange campaign or Visitor Access Protocol, see www.fedfarm.org.nz

ENDS

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