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The Government needs to move with urgency to address freedom camping issues in communities with high tourist numbers during peak tourism season, National’s Tourism spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“National’s $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund has helped provide toilets and parking spaces where freedom camping has been an increasing issue, but councils need new powers to better deal with the minority of freedom campers abusing our country.

“Labour’s freedom camping policy is non-existent, so the Tourism and Local Government Ministers must immediately adopt National’s policy of tougher rules for freedom camping.

“This includes restrictions for all non-self-contained vehicles to be within walking distance of a public toilet; allowing councils, the Department of Conservation and Land Information New Zealand to issue instant fines for those who break the rules; and allowing rental companies as the owners of infringing vehicles to collect fines.

“The Government should also start development on a smartphone app to show tourists where exactly they can and cannot camp to ensure freedom campers are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

“So far we haven’t seen any commitment from this Government to make strong policy decisions on freedom camping and support communities like Lake Hayes and Queenstown where freedom camping is an issue.

“I would now expect this to be a priority for the Tourism Minister following his recent inaugural visit to Central Otago. It’s certainly time he started doing his job properly.”

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