OPINION: The Government failed to take on board common sense suggestions for the improvement of the recently passed Zero Carbon Bill (ZCB).
Federated Farmers says the Government has failed to deliver on its commitment to farmers and other major landowners that they would continue to have access to the firearms they need for effective animal pest control.
Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee has released its report on the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill.
The bill, fast-tracked in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, would ban most types of semi-automatic weapons from sale and use in New Zealand, as well as a number of associated parts.
The committee has made minor changes following the submission process.
In response to concerns raised by Federated Farmers, the committee recommended adding “a narrow exemption” allowing specialist commercial businesses to use the banned semi-automatics to carry out pest control or wild animal management on private land.
But Federated Farmers Rural Security spokesperson Miles Anderson isn’t happy.
"Labour has the opportunity to fix the Bill over the next few days - otherwise Federated Farmers will feel duped by this process," he says.
Feds say landowners with significant pest problems will no longer have access to one of the tools they need to effectively manage their land. Farmers will have to rely on contractors who are unlikely to be available when required. Pests don’t wait around for contractors to turn up.
"The whole Select Committee has shown both a lack of trust and a complete lack of understanding of the needs of the rural sector on this issue,‘’ Anderson says.
‘’We have publicly backed the Government on this important issue from day one, based on the need to both protect public safety and ensure continuing access to the appropriate firearms for those who have demonstrated a genuine need.
"There are 5 million hectares of privately owned high and hill country in New Zealand. What these landowners have been left with is the equivalent of painting the Auckland harbour bridge with a toothbrush.
"Where were the Agriculture, Biosecurity, Forestry, Conservation and Land Information Ministers when common sense was needed around this important issue?’’
Farmers are being told to use contractors instead of doing it themselves. Where are these contractors going to come from, asked Anderson.
"Will they be available at 10pm on a frozen winter’s night to shoot wallabies off a forage crop? Or up at 5am waiting for a mob of pasture-wrecking pigs? And if they are, how much will they expect to get paid to do it? By the time the contractors arrive the pests will have moved on."
Instead of a limited number of rural landholders having these firearms locked away in a safe on the property where they will be used, we are being told that having people travelling the country with these firearms in their vehicles, staying in temporary accommodation with no firearms security, is a safer option.
"It is completely illogical," Anderson says.