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Govt desperation over beach title


Govt desperation over beach title

Prime Minister Helen Clark is stooping to desperation tactics in an attempt to deflect attention from her refusal to legislate to protect exclusive Crown title to New Zealand's seabed and foreshore, says National Party Leader Bill English.

"For days the Prime Minister and her media machine have been spinning the line that National will be embarrassed about a report on public access to the foreshore.

"This is just a distraction tactic. Everyone knows some beaches are inaccessible and that some of foreshore is in private hands already. The access report will confirm that it is uncertain who owns much of the foreshore.

"National is demanding that the Government act to confirm Crown ownership where there is doubt. Anyone concerned about public access knows ownership matters. Crown ownership guarantees access.

"The Prime Minister has back-tracked since initially saying Labour would legislate to confirm what people had always believed - that ownership of the beaches and seabed lay with the Crown.

"What followed was an internal rebellion by Labour's Maori MPs. Now, each week we are promised legislation and each week Labour delays. All we have is a promise of a Labour 'framework' on the issue - and still no sign of its promised legislation.

"In the meantime Labour is creating false expectations and causing a huge rush of Maori claims on beaches and seabed around the entire coastline. This is the most cynical part of Labour's unwillingness to take the hard decision - the creation of so much false expectation," he said.

Mr English said National would increase the tempo of its campaign to ensure that the remaining foreshore and seabed was safeguarded for all, regardless of race, by means of legislation to preserve exclusive Crown title.

"Exclusive title is essential. Anything else, such as dual title, simply avoids the problem," he said.

Mr English said National would this week begin the distribution of half a million postcards on the beaches issue, inviting people to show their support. "Labour should stop stalling and legislate now," he said.


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