Health and Safety Bill threatens 'locked gates' for recreationalists
Hunters, Trampers, Climbers and Mountain Bikers are adding their voice to those calling for changes to proposed health and safety legislation that threatens to 'lock gates' in rural communities.
The Health and Safety Reform Bill removes a specific provision in the current legislation which limits landowners responsibility to recreationalists and replaces this with a provision that all landowners must do what is 'reasonably practicable' to ensure the safety of all people to their workplaces.
“The problem is, that when a landowner is faced with the uncertainty of his or her responsibilities towards recreationalists, it is ‘reasonably practicable’ to lock a gate and put up a sign saying ‘no access’” said Bill O’Leary, President of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association.
Ben Wilde, of Trailfund New Zealand, which advocates for New Zealand's growing number of mountain bikers agrees and emphasises that what landowners need is clarity.
"The specific provision limiting landowners duties to recreationalists has worked well, strengthen it by all means, but to take it away and leave only a general duty for lawyers to argue about is criminal. Landowners will quite rightly put public access to their properties in the 'too hard basket' and recreational oppportunities will suffer."
FMC President, Robin McNeill thinks the saddest thing is that the reform will continue to erode the social bonds that hold communities together.
"Trampers, hunters and climbers have long relationships with many fantastic farming families. These are good people that are proud of their land and have often bended over backwards to accomodate, and sometimes rescue, outdoor recreationalists. They understand how important their places are to us. We are their friends, not their problem. We don’t want that relationship undermined by poor legislation”.