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Nick Smith gets it wrong again

Nick Smith gets it wrong again

The Department of Conservation's refusal to stand by the "legal opinion" on the foreshore trumpeted by Nick Smith demonstrates Dr Smith got it wrong – again, Land Information Minister John Tamihere says.

Dr Smith alleged the legal opinion given by DOC lawyer Timothe Mansfield in 1993 that probably less than 1 per cent of the foreshore was in private ownership proved that Mr Tamihere was deliberately spreading misinformation on the issue.

However DOC has distanced itself from the legal opinion, and its chief legal advisor Jonty Somers has said that "a great deal of weight could not be given to the 1993 assertions."

"The opinion was written nearly 10 years ago and the law has moved on," Mr Somers said.

"It is impossible to know what was the basis of Mrs Mansfield's 1 per cent figure. Land Information is the only agency that would have that information," Mr Somers said.

Mr Tamihere said DOC's response demonstrated that Dr Smith's assertion of the 1 per cent figure was nothing more than a stab in the dark.

"I find it ironic that someone accusing me of spreading misinformation has got it wrong themselves, Mr Tamihere said.

"Dr Smith has a habit of making wild allegations and then having to retract them once the truth is known. I thought he would have learned from the time he alleged Meridian Energy spent $60,000 on a rug, only to find it was in fact three rugs which costs a total of $23,000."

Mr Tamihere said LINZ staff were conducting an in-depth examination of title around the coastline, but that would take some time because of the complex nature of the work.

Meanwhile he urged National leader Bill English not to inflame feeling surrounding the foreshore debate when he spoke at a public meeting in Blenheim today.

"Mr English has been travelling around the country whipping up emotion on this very important and deeply felt issue. Pursuing politics of division is no way of achieving a debate and solution that is in the interests of all New Zealanders."

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