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Saturday, 01 September 2018 09:55

Passed without proper scrutiny

Written by 
Opposition agriculture spokesman, Nathan Guy. Opposition agriculture spokesman, Nathan Guy.

National's agriculture spokesman, Nathan Guy, says while some of the NAIT changes were needed, their passing under urgency has prevented proper scrutiny of them.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has had months to introduce this Bill into Parliament, but instead he expanded wide-ranging search powers under urgency.

 “Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be able to turn up to farmers’ properties without getting a warrant and seize anything they want, unannounced and without cause. 

 “National asked Mr O’Connor to send the Bill to select committee during the two-week recess to allow public input and ensure there are no unintended consequences for farmers, but the Minister refused.

 “National proposed amendments during the debate that an officer needs reasonable cause to suspect non-compliance with NAIT before entering the property. 

 “We also proposed that these wide-ranging warrantless powers being curtailed, so a NAIT officer can’t seize property without obtaining a warrant.

 “Unfortunately, both of these safeguard amendments were voted down by the Government.

 “However, National did successfully move an amendment that requires the Minister to report to Parliament next year on how these expanded powers are being used. 

“We will await this review with a great deal of interest.

 “National reluctantly supported the legislation to improve NAIT’s performance but remain gravely concerned about the process and invasion of farmer’s privacy.”

 He says Damien O’Connor had months to bring this bill into parliament, but instead has expanded wide-ranging search powers under urgency.

“MPI will be able to turn up to farmers’ properties without getting a warrant and seize anything they want -- unannounced and without cause. 

“National asked Mr O’Connor to send the bill to select committee during the two-week recess to allow public input and ensure there were no unintended consequences for farmers, but the minister refused.”

Guy says National proposed that these wide-ranging warrantless powers be curtailed to prevent a NAIT officer being able to seize property without obtaining a warrant.

“Unfortunately, both of these safeguard amendments were voted down by the Government.”

Guy says National reluctantly supported the legislation to improve NAIT’s performance but remains gravely concerned about the process and invasion of farmers’ privacy.

Meanwhile Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says she felt the process was rushed by using the urgency provisions. She says legislation is always better when more time is taken to find fishhooks. 

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