It is time for the Government to stop yakking and setting up working groups, and take some actual decisions to improve the behaviour of freedom campers, National Party Tourism Spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.
“Labour have been casting around for ideas on Freedom Camping for far too long,” Ms Dean says. “There are some ready-made steps that can be taken and they should get on and take them.”
National today released a new Private Members’ Bill from East Coast MP Anne Tolley which will put into law the freedom camping policy announced by the Party at the last election.
“This Bill contains serious practical steps which have already been road-tested with councils and agencies around the country,” Ms Tolley says.
“It will prohibit Freedom Camping more than 200 metres from public toilet facilities, provide more organisations with the right to restrict freedom camping, and provide for instant fines that have been issued to be collected by rental car companies.
“Passing this bill through parliament would have an immediate positive impact on the behaviour of freedom campers. It will also give local authorities, NZTA and LINZ an easier way to collect instant fines.”
Ms Dean says freedom camping is an important part of New Zealand’s tourism industry but it must be managed well.
“The onus is on the Government to take decisions here, but like in many other areas, they are showing their inexperience,” Ms Dean says. “It seems their answer to everything is to set up another working group.
“National is happy to help. We’ve done this work already and we know it will curb some of the worst behaviour of freedom campers.
“Mr Davis should stop just talking about doing something, and pick up this bill immediately as a Government initiative. He should also guarantee that the $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund will continue to support local tourism infrastructure and will not be rolled into New Zealand First’s Provincial Growth Fund.
“We don’t hold much hope for him to grapple successfully with the issues. In the meantime we’ll be placing this bill in the next ballot for private members while we wait for them to pick it up.”