Responsible Campers Association renews calls for inquiry into pooping in public law change

Responsible Campers Association renews calls for inquiry into pooping in public law change
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The Responsible Campers Association Inc (RCAi) is renewing calls for an inquiry into New Zealand's pooping in public law after the National Party announced it wants to use an extra Select Committee seat to strongarm the Government into freedom camping legislation changes.

The organisation presented a petition to Parliament last week calling for the tightening of criteria required to establish a legal defence to defecating in public. Currently, the only grounds are a reasonable expectation that the pooper would not be seen, although RCAi's petition urges that "defecation must happen at least 50 metres from a waterway, and be buried 15cm deep".

The National Party hopes their extra place on the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee will mean the Self-contained Motor Vehicles Legislation Bill goes back to the House to change the definition of "self-contained". The Bill means freedom campers who are staying in their vehicles would require a fixed toilet if they want to stay on council-managed land, and those with portable toilets would no longer be classed as self-contained.

RCAi spokesperson Bob Osborne said the Self-contained Motor Vehicles Legislation Bill showed a "shortsightedness" from the beginning, given there was a "fundamental failure" to make all vehicles that freedom camp be fitted with a fixed toilet.

"Responsible Campers had always been baffled how banning camp toilets was ever going to assist to address a public defecation issue, while issues around the effectiveness of the Freedom Camping Act and the voluntary NZ standard for self-containment to solve roadside defecation had many looking at the sky in bewilderment," Osborne said.

"There is no specific evidence that points to freedom campers being responsible for defecation as they are not the only persons needing toilet facilities while travelling around our great green country."

Osborne supports returning the Bill to the House so that it can be strengthened.

"In this way we can ensure a bright future for all Kiwi camping families while ensuring the environment is protected from any undesirable side effects."

RCAi's wish for all waste to be buried to a depth of at least 15cm and any "business" done at least 50 metres from a waterway would bring the law closer to what the Department of Conversation (DoC) recommends for anyone caught out while in the wilds of Aotearoa.

As well as burying any waste and doing it away from a waterway, DoC also advises using as little toilet paper as possible or using soft leaves or bark.

"Don't use bleached toilet paper or wet wipes. Bury your poo and all toilet paper with soil, filling the hole to the top," the website states.

At the moment, anyone who urinates or defecates in any public place other than a public toilet can be fined up to $200 if they don't prove they had "reasonable grounds for believing that he would not be observed".