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Govt fuels division over foreshore & seabed issue

Govt fuels division over foreshore and seabed issue

The foreshore and seabed ownership issue is becoming more divisive by the day and blame lies at the feet of Helen Clark's incompetent handling of the issue, says National Party Leader Bill English.

"First the New Zealand public was told Labour would introduce laws to protect Crown ownership, since then we've been betrayed by the Prime Minister and Margaret Wilson, who've been backtracking furiously.

"A weekend hui wound up with a resolution saying the seabed and foreshore belong to Maori - that's hardly surprising given the expectations that have been built up by Helen Clark's Government.

"The vacuum left by the Government's indecisiveness is being filled by radicals, but Labour needs to know those radicals are a minority," says Mr English.

"Kiwis deserve certainty but they're not getting it because the Government is at sixes and sevens over what to do.

"On one hand there's Associate Maori Affairs Minister John Tamihere saying on ownership 'any Maori leader who tries that on needs psychiatric treatment real quick'.

"Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia appears to take a different view.

"This is not just a debate that involves Maori, it involves all New Zealanders," says Mr English.

"The talks cannot be allowed to continue behind closed doors and at meetings exclusively reserved for Maori.

"National would back legislation that keeps ownership of the beaches and our coast with the Crown.

"And if Helen Clark won't do that, we will introduce the legislation ourselves," Mr English says.

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