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Fisheries Minister confirms double standard

Phil Heatley MP National Party Fisheries Spokesman

10 March 2004

Fisheries Minister confirms double standard

"It's absurd for the Fisheries Minister to accuse the Opposition of 'ignorance and prejudice' over customary fishing regulations when his own colleagues say the rules are a shambles," says National Party Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley.

Mr Heatley is responding to an attack by the new Minister after National called on the Government to treat all those who breach fishing regulations equally before the law.

"The new Minister is clearly very sensitive on this matter.

"National wants cast iron assurances that David Benson-Pope will instruct authorities to take the appropriate action if a marine farm at Potaka marae is deemed to be operating illegally.

"Whether it's a commercial operation, like the marae venture or customary fishing - everyone should be held equally accountable under the law.

"It's hugely hypocritical of Mr Benson-Pope to accuse me of 'ignorance and prejudice', when his own colleague Dover Samuels has been highly critical of the way customary fishing regulations are being managed.

"Why is it alright for Mr Samuels to question the enforcement and monitoring of the regulations, but when I raise the issue I am showing 'ignorance and prejudice'?

"The Labour Government has to understand that all New Zealanders have an interest in protecting our fisheries resource. National already accepts that," says Mr Heatley.

Ends

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