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Government eroding its own beach-head

Government eroding its own beach-head

"The Government is sewing more uncertainty over its confused beaches and seabed policy," says National Party Leader Bill English.

He says the National Party is alarmed by Government statements that suggest there is room for a compromise and a rethink of key principles in the recently floated beaches and seabed policy.

"The taxpayer-sponsored hui are already starting to look like a forum for closed door deals between Government and Maori.

"The Government must show some leadership and start representing silent majority," Mr English says.

"Helen Clark backed down from her initial promise to the country and now the Government's backing even further away.

"The wider public who felt reassured should now be feeling increasingly uneasy, especially after hearing Government hard man Trevor Mallard talking about further compromise after just two of the 11 hui.

"He's signalled that Labour is prepared to negotiate on the principles it laid down just three weeks ago.

"He's agreed the proposal is 'light - it needs work', he's can't say if legislation will be introduced as promised by Christmas and he won't 'rule in or rule out' whether some type of customary title could be used as a compromise.

"It would seem a policy built on sand is beginning to erode.

"It now looks like the Government came up with proposals that were deliberately vague, so they could give themselves plenty of room to do deals with Maori," says Mr English.

The National Party has now received more than 40,000 postcard petition forms supporting its position that the Crown should own the beaches, and nearly 70,000 people have signed the Party's on-line petition.

"What mainstream New Zealanders want is certainty for the long-term future.

"Unfortunately they can not now trust this Government to deliver on its promises," Mr English says.

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