'It is completely illogical': Federated Farmers slams firearm recommendations

Federated Farmers has slammed the recommendations of the Select Committee looking at changes to firearms laws, saying landowners have been let down.

The Select Committee report has recommended the Government go ahead with a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

The Arms Amendment Bill is in response to the March 15 terror attack in which 50 people were shot dead in two mosques in Christchurch.

The ban would include farmers who currently use the firearms for pest control, however exemptions would be made for pest controllers engaged by the Department of Conservation, or by a management agency.

Federated Farmers is disappointed with the recommendations and said unless further changes are made, pests will be the winners and the environment will be the loser.

Rural Security spokesperson Miles Anderson said 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.

"Labour has the opportunity to fix the Bill over the next few days, otherwise Federated Farmers will feel duped by this process," he said.

He said under the recommendations, 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," said Anderson.

"Pests don't wait around for contractors to turn up."

He said the Select Committee had shown both a lack of trust and a complete lack of understanding of the needs of the rural sector on this issue. 

"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."

Miles Anderson said rural landowners who can demonstrate a genuine need to use the firearms as part of their business should be eligible to apply for an exemption, just as provided for other professional firearms users in the Bill.