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Clark ducks the hard questions - again

Hon Bill English MP National Party Leader

26 August 2003

Clark ducks the hard questions - again

"The Prime Minister is again refusing to appear before Parliament to answer the hard questions about the Government's cop out on foreshore and seabed ownership," says National Party Leader Bill English.

He's commenting on the prospect of yet another Parliamentary question time with the Prime Minister conspicuous by her absence, she has also avoided the predictable snap debate.

"Her Government has just floated an idea that will fundamentally change the way our beaches and seabed are administered, she should show some leadership by fronting up to explain the Government's position, as well as answering questions on the issue," Mr English says.

"Instead, she's ducking for cover, letting her lieutenants take the heat in the House.

"It's becoming a habit for Helen Clark to avoid public association with Treaty and Maori issues," says Mr English.

"New Zealand has never had a Prime Minister who has been so eager to avoid public debate and Parliamentary scrutiny.

"Helen Clark's Government has actively encouraged Maori expectations, the anger among Maori reflects that encouragement," Mr English says.

"Now Helen Clark needs to show New Zealanders how her solution will withstand the pressure that must come from a whole new claims industry.

"Even if the Government plan is accepted, there is no guarantee that the protection of customary rights will be enough to ensure public control of beaches.

"The Government admits it may be forced to 'discuss with those affected what steps might be taken to address the issue'.

"In other words that means more back-room deals.

"The National Party supports customary rights being explored in the usual manner, but we believe Crown title to our beaches and seabed is the only way to end the uncertainty," Mr English says.


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