13 Jul 2015

Farmers, hunters collaborate on bill

8:10 pm on 13 July 2015

Federated Farmers and Fish & Game New Zealand have come together to ensure changes to health and safety law don't restrict recreational access to farms.

New Zealand hunting

Photo: 123rf

The proposed Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill is aimed at improving safety in all workplaces, including on farms.

The Bill is currently being considered by the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee, which is due to report back to Parliament on 24 July.

Federated Farmers health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne said some farmers were worried the Bill would make them liable for accidents caused by recreational users of their land.

Federated Farmers' health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne.

Federated Farmers' health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"They are frightened that if someone comes onto their property and they hurt themselves, even though they may not be doing any farm work and not involved with any activity that's farm related, because the farm is deemed to be a workplace they'll be held accountable.

"It does need to be tidied up so it's very clear that is not the case. At the moment quite a few farmers have said 'no, I can't afford to let anybody on my property because I can't have this hanging over me'.

"That's a sad spot to end up in because we have done a lot in the last 10 years to make sure that access for fishermen and hunters is available."

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said the Bill needed to be clarified to preserve the existing understanding between farmers and recreators.

"We would like the status quo to continue. It's very clear in our view that recreational visitors to farms are not encumbered in any way. The only obligation is for the farmer to point out where there are extraordinary hazards. 'Extraordinary' means hazards way beyond the normal operation of that particular category of farm.

"So if you're a bull farmer you don't have to tell people you're farming bulls. If you're a farmer and you happen to be blasting some tracks, or if you've got a forestry block and you're removing the trees, fair enough, mention it.

"Other than that I think we need a pretty minimum requirement. This is not a worksite as far as recreation is concerned, it's a recreation site. Recreationists are obliged, in our view, to take responsibility for their own situation."

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