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Submission on Foreshore and Seabed Bill

28 July 2004

Business Roundtable Presents Submission on Foreshore and Seabed Bill

It is the courts' role to adjudicate on claims to rights to the foreshore and seabed, New Zealand Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr said today. Governments should be reluctant to override court decisions and interfere with claims to property rights.

He made his comments in front of the select committee considering the Foreshore and Seabed Bill.

The New Zealand Business Roundtable position is similar to that of a number of business and Maori organisations. The foreshore and seabed should generally be publicly owned with open access, subject to existing private rights, including customary and common law rights, and on the basis that new rights might need to be established over time.

"There is still time for last year's Court of Appeal decision to be appealed to the Privy Council to establish whether it is sound law", Mr Kerr said. "If so, Maori should be allowed to test their claims in court. The Court of Appeal suggested that the prospects of success were limited.

"If the court process were to result in outcomes that the government judged were not in the public interest, it should intervene at that point and consider compensation for any takings of established property rights.

"The government has over-reacted to this issue. The Foreshore and Seabed Bill is sledgehammer legislation that does not have a sound public policy basis and could create grievances that take years to resolve", Mr Kerr said.

The complete submission is available online on the NZBR website: www.nzbr.org.nz

ENDS

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