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Lease-holders’ rights large part of High Country equation

Press Release – Federated Farmers

Its timely and worthwhile to review aspects of Crown lease land in the South Island High Country but the rights of leaseholders are just as important as other factors in the debate, Federated Farmers says.Lease-holders’ rights important part of High Country equation

Source: Federated Farmers

It’s timely and worthwhile to review aspects of Crown lease land in the South Island High Country but the rights of leaseholders are just as important as other factors in the debate, Federated Farmers says.

“We have no problem with a reasoned and balanced discussion on the extent to which the objectives of the Crown Pastoral Land Act (Section 24) have been achieved,” Feds High Country Chairperson Simon Williamson says.

“However, having now reviewed the full proposal released over the weekend, we believe the Minister has jumped the gun. It would have been more appropriate to determine the fate of Tenure Review as part of this consultation process, after all submissions and viewpoints had been received and evaluated.”

Federated Farmers is pleased with the assurances from Land Information Manager Eugenie Sage that negotiations with those properties already in tenure review will continue on a case-by-case basis.

Eight leaseholders have already accepted a substantive proposal from the Crown, meaning there is a binding contract and an obligation on the Commissioner of Crown Lands to implement a tenure review.

“But there are 26 other lease-holders at other stages of the process. Federated Farmers strongly contends that negotiations should continue with them under existing legislative procedures. Budget provision should be available to ensure farming operations remain viable, with compensation for land and improvements returned to the conservation estate,” Mr Williamson says.

“We also urge that the current legislative and case-law property rights are respected for those leaseholders continuing under their current pastoral leases.”

In particular, Federated Farmers is concerned with the major changes proposed to the discretionary consent process and the role of the Commissioner, both of which will significantly impact those who retain High Country pastoral leases.

“It would be highly unfair if the outcomes of the proposals were to effectively lock up in perpetuity leased land to the point it becomes a quasi-public estate, compromising the farm’s viable operation in what is some of the nation’s harshest land, and yet still requiring that farmer to meet all the responsibilities the lease entails, including pest and weed management, without any sort of compensation,” Mr Williamson says.

“That in essence would be the government under-funding the public conservation estate, and instead getting that management and protection by stealth, courtesy of the leaseholder.”

ENDS

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