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Govt opens Pandora's box on beach claims

Hon Bill English MP National Party Leader

18 August 2003

Govt opens Pandora's box on beach claims

The Government decision to sidestep the issue of foreshore and seabed ownership means no one now owns the beach, says National Party Leader Bill English.

"The Government is essentially saying that ownership doesn't matter.

"The National Party believes it does matter, which is why we say legislation confirming exclusive Crown title to the foreshore and seabed is the best answer.

"New Zealanders now face even more uncertainty than before about beach and seabed ownership," says Mr English.

"At the same time Maori are being given the green light to pursue claims.

"Rather than ending the confusion, the Government is moving to create a new industry around indigenous title, going so far as to create a special division of the Maori Land Court to deal with the issue," Mr English says.

"Government Ministers have talked of a 'win-win' scenario but Treaty lawyers will be the only winners from today's beaches and seabed announcement.

"Right now there are 38 applications in front of the Maori Land Court covering more than 3,600 kilometres of our coast.

"Hundreds more claims are likely because today's Government proposal actively encourages more claims while allowing expectations to grow.

"Helen Clark's also completed a 180 degree u-turn since June 22nd, when she said 'ownership of the foreshore and seabed has long been considered to lie with the Crown.'

"Instead of drawing a line in the sand and standing by those statements, Labour has been too busy trying to stop its own internal haemorrhaging.

"In the process, Helen Clark is sentencing future generations of New Zealanders to solve a problem she does not have the vision or the courage to fix herself," Mr English says.

Ends

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