31 Dec 2022

Motor Caravan association critical of plan for self-contained camper regulation

1:33 pm on 31 December 2022
Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis has called a meeting with mayors from districts across the North and South Islands to discuss solutions to issues around freedom camping.

File image. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Motor Caravan association says a proposal for the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board to oversee regulation of self-contained campers will bring order to a lawless situation.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has released a discussion document on ways to introduce more regulation of freedom campers.

It is proposing the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board be the official regulator determining if a campervan is deemed self-contained.

Bruce Lochore, the chief executive of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, said some of the problems with freedom campers have been due to the current system being voluntary.

"What (this proposal) does is put self-containment into legislation," Lochore said.

"It defines it, and then it has a body over and above it who will be the referee, who will be the policeman of those people issuing self-containment. So it gives it some teeth which it has never had before, and it will just get rid of some of those dodgy ones."

Up until now it had been a race to the bottom, with some people simply buying a sticker saying they were self-contained when they were not, Lochore said.

Communities were sick of people passing off their vehicles as self- contained when they were not and being left to clean up their mess, he said.

Lochore welcomed most of the proposed changes, however, he said the association did not support the idea of required documentation and a self-containment card.

The proposal was old-fashioned, unnecessary and open to fraud, he said.

"We're saying that is pretty much outdated now. You can do all this electronically. Just read the number plate, have a central database where those vehicles that have passed the standard, passed the qualification, are on the central database and an enforcement officer can look at that number plate and say that is on or not and if its not on the database they can ticket it.

"In the past we have had fraud where people have made up their own cards up, made their own stickers up. And that will continue if they continue to go down the same way with paperwork."

The costs proposed were also excessive, Lochore said.

Costs could be reduced by removing the need for the paperwork, and by making use of the association's extensive database which already covers a large proportion of the motor caravans in the country, he said.

It would also reduce costs if the database was kept very simple and only included information required to determine if vehicles were self-contained, he said.

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