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Bill's two standards of land ownership

1 August 2003 Media Statement

Bill's two standards of land ownership

National leader Bill English appears to be obsessed with pursuing race-related politics, Associate Maori Affairs Minister John Tamihere says.

"A search of Bill's most recent speeches and statements posted on the National Party website reveals that 15 out of 23 – more than 65 per cent – involve statements critical of Maori," Mr Tamihere says.

"You have to go back to April 23 to find a speech by Mr English in which Maori issues were not an important, if not dominant, theme. And Bill's stance on these issues paints Maori in a negative light on almost every occasion."

"I find Bill's recent interest in the tangata whenua fascinating – perhaps, given the amount of time Bill devotes to things Maori, he might try standing in a Maori seat next election."

It was also interesting to note that Mr English had changed his tack completely since giving a speech in 1993 in which he defended farmers' rights to prevent public access to the Queen's Chain, Mr Tamihere said.

In his speech on the Queen's Chain Protection Bill, Mr English told Parliament that it was ‘simply … not the case’ that members of the public have the right to go anywhere they like within 20 metres of a waterway.
He warned: ‘We have to remember that public access in New Zealand also consists of the tacit consent of the private landowners who own land where there is no legal public access.

"It seems there are two different standards of citizenship and property rights, according to Bill," Mr Tamihere said.

"There is one standard for those who happen to be Dipton farmers just like Bill, and another for Maori land owners. While Bill wants to see the rights of Dipton famers enjoy absolute protection, he is quite happy to walk all over the rights of others."

Mr English also attacked public access groups – groups whose cause he now champions – who were campaigning for stronger protection of the Queen’s Chain.

"It is time Mr English stopped trying to set New Zealander against New Zealander in his desperate attempt to rekindle support for his flailing party. This debate is not about race, it is about rights and fairness. It is disappointing that Mr English is determined to create racial divison, rather than resolve the real issues involved, as a responsible leader would do."


Bill English: Queen’s Chain Protection Bill 15 September 1993 (source: Hansard)

- “I can tell the House that landowners are starting to get interested in the controversy because they are not that impressed by public access lobbyists who assert to them that members of the public have the right to go anywhere they like within 20 metres of a waterway. That simply is not the case, and because such a high-profile campaign has been made out of it landowners are starting to react. They are starting to look at their titles to see if the public has legal access across their land - and, in fact, in many cases the public has not.”

- “I have to say that in my experience environmental groups and public access groups are the most openly racist groups in our society. The news media, in particular, have let them get away with that for a couple of years now. Those groups are able to get up and make very politically incorrect statements about Maori rights and about the place of the Treaty of Waitangi. They show a total lack of understanding of the significance of the treaty, the concept of partnership, and any obligations that the Crown might have under that treaty.”

- “If Opposition members want to get onside with this campaign, they ought to be on it. They ought to come into the House with a private member's Bill that says that all land within 20 metres of any waterway and any coastline ought to be reserved completely for public access. That is what they ought to do.”

- “We have to remember that public access in New Zealand also consists of the tacit consent of the private landowners who own land where there is no legal public access.

ENDS

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