MP's bill to bring freedom campers closer to toilets to be debated after drawn from ballot

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Freedom campers seen here on Whanganui’s Anzac Parade. Photo / Bevan Conley

Freedom campers will only be allowed within 200 metres of toilets if a member’s bill drawn in Parliament today passes.

The proposed law change was designed to make it easier to crack down on some of the poor behaviour from freedom campers and make the rules more consistent.

West Coast-based National Party list MP Maureen Pugh’s Freedom Camping (Infringement Offences and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was one of four Members’ Bills pulled from the ballot on Thursday.

Pugh said the bill was in light of New Zealand’s “unprecedented tourism boom” pre-Covid -19, which she expected to pick up again once borders were fully reopened.

“Restrictions would include confining freedom camping which isn’t self-contained to within 200m of toilet facilities, empowering more Government organisations to limit freedom camping on land they control and provide stronger enforcement of fines for rule-breakers.

“New Zealand is primarily a touring destination, and freedom camping is one of the many ways that people choose to experience our country. But there are a lot more people freedom camping than there used to be and this has created some issues.”

West Coast-based National Party MP Maureen Pugh's Freedom Camping (Infringement Offences and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was pulled from the ballot on Thursday. Photo / Supplied
West Coast-based National Party MP Maureen Pugh’s Freedom Camping (Infringement Offences and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was pulled from the ballot on Thursday. Photo / Supplied

National’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee also had his Autonomous Sanctions Bill drawn, which would allow a New Zealand government to impose sanctions on foreign individuals, entities or regimes responsible for situations of international concern.

“This is a revival of a Government Bill introduced by the National government in 2017, left on the Order Paper by Labour for three years before being dropped in 2020,” Brownlee said.

“Legislation of this kind, also known as Magnitsky-style regimes, exist in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, and were used in a co-ordinated effort earlier this year to sanction those involved in the Uyghur abuses.

“New Zealand was unable to join this effort, as we do not have the same legal mechanisms, which are also expected to come before the Australian Parliament this year.

“New Zealand has always had a strong independent foreign policy outside of forums like the United Nations, which will always be subject to veto powers.

“We should have the ability to stand with like-minded nations and impose sanctions on actors involved in situations contrary to international law and our values.”

Labour Party MP Tangi Utikere’s Local Government (Pecuniary Interests Register) Amendment Bill was also pulled from the ballot.

It would require local authorities to maintain and publish “a register of pecuniary and other specified interests for members of local authorities, such as directorships, business interests, employment, or property”.

It would also require members of local authorities to disclose gifts and payments they receive. Such declarations were currently inconsistent across local authorities.

It is designed to “improve transparency and strengthen public trust and confidence in decision-making of local authorities”.

Given Labour’s parliamentary majority and that the party’s members’ bills need to be approved by caucus before they are submitted, the bill is likely to pass.

Act’s Rural Affairs spokesman Mark Cameron had his Resource Management (Regional Responsibility for Certain Agricultural Matters) Amendment Bill drawn, which would allow regional councils to set environmental standards in each region rather than the Government.

“In recent years farmers have been hammered by regulations put in place by Government that don’t take into account the diverse landscapes across the country,” he said.

“Regional councils are best positioned to understand local conditions, this will allow direct relationship with stakeholders farmers and industry and their regulators.”