Unless further changes are made to the Arms Amendment Bill, pests will be the winners and the environment will be the loser.

So Federated Farmers spokesman Miles Anderson said, claiming the government had failed to deliver on its commitment to farmers and major land owners that they would continue to have access to firearms 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," Mr Anderson said.

Farmers would have to rely on contractors, who were unlikely to be available when required. "The whole Select Committee has shown both a lack of trust and a complete lack of understanding of the needs of the rural sector on this issue," Mr Anderson said.


"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 is five million hectares of privately-owned high and hill country in New Zealand. What these land owners have been left with is the equivalent of painting the Auckland harbour bridge with a toothbrush.

"Where were the Agriculture, Biosecurity, Forestry, Conservation and Land Information ministers when common sense was needed around this important issue?"

The Select Committee considered DoC and regional council staff could be trusted with firearms, but a small number of carefully vetted private land owners could not.

"Our farmers would like an explanation why a junior DoC field staffer on freely accessible public land is somehow safer with these firearms than a land owner on thousands of hectares of a back-country station with strictly controlled access," he said. "Farmers are being told to use contractors. Where are these contractors going to come from?

"Will they be available at 10pm on a frozen winter's night to shoot wallabies off a forage crop? Or up at 5am waiting for a mob of pasture-wrecking pigs? And if they are, how much will they expect to get paid to do it? By the time the contractors arrive the pests will have moved on."

Instead of a limited number of rural landholders having firearms locked on the property, having people travelling the country with firearms in their vehicles, staying in temporary accommodation with no firearms security, was pitched as a safer option.

"It is completely illogical. Farmers and land owners are being loaded with more responsibility to look after the native biodiversity on their properties than ever before, and at the same time the government is taking away one of the tools necessary.


"We were astonished that the Department of Conservation, that constantly advocates for conservation on private land, appears to have simply looked after themselves when it comes to controlling pests that threaten New Zealand biodiversity.

"All Federated Farmers is asking is that rural land owners who can demonstrate a genuine need to use these firearms be eligible to apply for an exemption, just as provided for other professional firearms users in the Bill. None of the changes we seek undermine public safety."