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16 August 2004

Rural Women oppose legalised trespass

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) says that the proposed contravention of private property rights currently under debate in Cabinet could make farming untenable.


RWNZ's National President, Sherrill Dackers, says that Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) regulations put farmers in an impossible situation when the public are given access to cross private land.


There has already been one prominent case in New Zealand where a farming family was financially sent to the wall by OSH after a member of the public had an accident on their land.


“When farmers are charged with the responsibility of ensuring safety within their boundaries, they must also be given the right to say who crosses those boundaries,” Mrs Dackers says.


“Presumably this legislation has come about because of the growing number of corporate property owners who are locking their gates to the public. One of the biggest perpetrators of this practice is the Department of Conservation (DoC).”


Mrs Dackers says that the Government is contradicting itself at every turn, and should talk to its own people before inflicting legislation on private owners.


“In circumstances where DoC are locking their gates, they have good reasons for doing so, including environmental protection, public safety and biosecurity risks.


Private owners face exactly the same issues, so why shouldn't they be allowed to lock their gates as well, if they deem it necessary to do so?”


Mrs Dackers says that most farmers do not object when a member of the public approaches them personally and asks for permission to cross their land.


“By giving public access as of right, the Government is removing all incentives towards civility and personal responsibility.”


The Government's misguided attempt to protect public access rights to waterways will achieve nothing except make a handful of hunters and fishermen happy at the expense of all private land owners in the country.


“This isn't just about rural properties - how would urban residents feel if the public started marching across their waterfront sections?


The implication is that this will happen under the proposed legislation.”


The same principle would apply to any industrial or manufacturing site located next to a waterway.


For further information contact:

Sherrill Dackers

National President - Rural Women New Zealand



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