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Transparency needed over beaches debate

Hon Bill English MP National Party Leader

27 August 2003

Transparency needed over beaches debate

National Party Leader Bill English is challenging the Government to extend and expand the consultation around its foreshore and seabed proposal so more New Zealanders can take part.

"The Government should be listening to all New Zealanders, not just those who are politically motivated enough to attend one of the 11 four hour hui over the next six weeks.

"Helen Clark's Government must not ride roughshod over the views of the majority, we must also have the chance to express our views," says Mr English.

"However, Labour's reluctant to let anyone else have a say, for fear their views might differ from those of the Maori Caucus who've stitched up a deal they believe they can sell.

Mr English is also calling on the Government to be uncharacteristically transparent with any discussions surrounding compensation for Maori beach claims.

"Since Helen Clark has actively been encouraging Maori expectations, the presumption is there'll be some kind of compensation.

"New Zealanders deserve to be told what form that compensation will take, " says Mr English.

"Helen Clark may think it's an 'abstract' issue but two senior Ministers including Margaret Wilson believe it's a reality.

"Just this morning John Tamihere has been quoted as saying that 'if exploration of those rights finds they have been extinguished, then that becomes an issue for compensation.'

"Will aquaculture be used a bargaining chip and is some new 'fiscal envelope' to limit claims being considered?

"Labour is re-writing the rule book with its new beefed up Maori Land Court which will open up claims based on mana, ancestral association as well as customary rights.

"It's creating uncertainty and giving rise to a whole new Treaty industry," Mr English says.

"All New Zealanders need to know the Government has put a safety net in place to ensure that future generations are not dealing with this same issue years down the track.

"The National Party supports One Standard of Citizenship, but the Government favours another path, which is why it's not casting a wider net with consultation," Mr English says.

Ends

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