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New Access Bill downgrades, closes Public Access

Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations
of New Zealand Inc


11 June 2008

Media Release

New Access Bill designed to downgrade and close Public Access

The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ) is alarmed that the Government’s new Walking Access Bill is purposely designed to reduce public access to the countryside, not maintain or enhance it.

“The purpose of the Bill is clearly to downgrade public unformed roads” CORANZ spokesman Dr Hugh Barr said. “There are over 50,000 km of these publicly owned roads throughout New Zealand. They provide year-round vehicle access for boaties, anglers, hunters and trampers to lakes, rivers, and the back country.”

“The Acland Consultation Panel, on whose recommendations the Bill is supposed to be based, saw them as the most important means of maintaining public access to the countryside. They are already Crown owned, and the public has very strong rights of use” Dr Barr said.

“This new Bill is privatisation by stealth. The Bill is 70% about Walkways. They are one of the weakest forms of public access, as they can be closed for up to a quarter of the year, and are only for walkers. They were tried initially from 1975 to 1989 and failed spectacularly to give access across private land. A previous Labour government sidelined them in 1989”.

“This Bill is primarily about downgrading public roads to walkways and closing them. This will severely degrade public access and lock out the public. This Bill has nothing to do with improving public access. It mostly about privatising public roads to lock the public out of the countryside” Dr Barr said.

“This is the clear reason why Federated Farmers supports the Bill. It is so anti-access, it could even have been written by them. Farmers will be the main beneficiaries, and get control and use of these publicly owned roads. The recreational public are the big losers. It is astounding a Labour government, supposedly supporting better public access to the countryside should put forward a bill to privatise these roads” Dr Barr said.

The majority of public submissions on the Bill were from concerned outdoor users –boaties, hunters, 4WD users, cyclists, trampers and walkers that have seen through the farmer and government smokescreen” Dr Barr said. “Labour needs to drastically rethink this legislation”.

ENDS

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