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Labour's High Country policy has multiple flaws

Labour's High Country policy has multiple flaws

The Labour Party's policy to hike High Country property rents and drop the tenure review process in favour of direct acquisition is tantamount to confiscation Federated Farmers Board High Country liaison William Rolleston said today.

"This policy will override the Resource Management Act and directly contravenes the Land Tribunal judgement which in 2009 quashed the previous Labour Government's attempts to hike High Country rents above a property's productive capacity.

"It also attempts to put a bulldozer through the 2009 High Court decision on pastoral leases declaring the lessee or farmer had the same absolute title rights as any other land owner or lessee.

"In that case, brought by Fish & Game to test what public rights of access existed on High Country land, the courts determined High Country families have the same rights as any other landowner or lessee. In most instances those 200 to 300 families have been on the land for generations and have a profound interest in the sustainable and environmentally sound use of their land into the future.

"This policy fails to acknowledge the enormous amount of work and investment made by these farmers to rid their land of pest and weed species. Nor does it take into account the huge tracts of land which have been protected under QEII Trust covenants or set aside in tenure review for future generations of New Zealanders to enjoy."

Labour seems to think that if the Resource Management Act is not working to satisfy their political agenda, they can selectively suspend it at will.

"Just because a law won't work for them, should not mean a political party has free reign to make up new rules that suit them better in any particular instance.

"This policy would force these farmers off their land and the taxpayer would have to take on the responsibility of looking after these fragile environments. It is irresponsible to expand the Doc estate and increase the taxpayer burden in these economically difficult times.

"This policy strikes me as the politics of envy, designed to appeal to people whose knowledge of the New Zealand High Country is restricted to postcards and occasional glimpses on television," Dr Rolleston concluded.

High Country farmer and Federated Farmers High Country vice-chairperson Chas Todhunter said he was particularly disappointed that potentially affected farmers were not consulted in the formation of the policy.

"I question how any politician can produce effective policy without consulting those affected.

"If Labour wants to really address on-going High Country issues and look at how to increase the conservation estate ion the future, they have an open invitation to talk with Federated Farmers High Country. That way they could avoid mistakes such as the previous rental hike debacle, which William mentioned earlier, which ended up in a court battle which cost both tax payers and farmers.

"The last time the Labour government started down a policy path of aggressive acquisition of high country land drove land prices through the roof, adding to the distortions in the rural land market.

"Implementing policies against the wishes of the people of the land always proves an expensive exercise for individuals and the state," Mr Todhunter concluded.

© Scoop Media

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