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Labour must talk openly about seabed claims

Hon Bill English MP National Party Leader

07 July 2003

Labour must talk openly about seabed claims

National Party Leader Bill English is urging the Government to reveal what's being discussed in secret talks designed to silence the rumblings over Maori claims to the seabed and foreshore.

"The Government has built up Maori and public expectations so it's going to be difficult to find a compromise that can satisfy both sides of the argument.

"New Zealanders already think Helen Clark is backing down on her earlier promises of legislation.

"Any law change seems further away than ever today, with Margaret Wilson's office reported as saying draft legislation was 'ridiculous' and 'nothing definitive was on the table'.

"It's now clear the Government won't please anybody when it conducts talks that are hidden from the public.

"If the Government is trading away New Zealanders' rights, the public deserves to know.

"Secret chats between Labour and its Maori MPs are hardly open and transparent Government.

"It will simply compound the growing frustration among New Zealanders about Treaty issues," says Mr English.

"After breaking those earlier promises, the vacillations of the Crown have caused massive uncertainty and confusion in the fishing industries.

"There are claims that future investment will be jeopardised and suggestions the Government will use lucrative marine farming rights as a bargaining chip," Mr English says.

"The National party believes that title to the seabed and foreshore belongs to the Crown and the law should reflect that," Mr English says.


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