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Clark backs down on coastal claims

Clark backs down on coastal claims

National Party Leader Bill English says Helen Clark is backing away from earlier promises to take decisive action to end the uncertainty around ownership of New Zealand's coastal seabed and foreshore.

"Just yesterday the Prime Minister was reported as saying that ownership lies with the Crown and there would be legislation to clarify that.

"Now Parekura Horomia has told Parliament that a new committee will decide what legislation is appropriate," says Mr English.

"The Opposition can only assume that means the ground is being prepared for some kind of slippery compromise.

"Also yesterday Helen Clark was reported as saying Maori would still be able to pursue claims about customary use but not customary title - the very issue that's angered her Maori colleagues.

"Asked about those comments in Parliament today, Helen Clark was unable to give a satisfactory definition of either, or any explanation for her apparent change of heart," Mr English says.

"It's now clear the revolt from the Maori Caucus is forcing the Prime Minister into an embarrassing back-down.

"The Government procrastination has the potential to give life to a whole new range of compensation claims and it could force some existing deals to be revisited.

"It has now been nearly a week since the Court of Appeal ruling cleared the way to claims on our foreshore and seabed.

"As at today there is still no sign of the legislation we have been promised," says Mr English.

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