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Fisheries Minister Must Investigate Allegations

Fisheries Minister Must Investigate Allegations

Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope must fully explain why a TV One news item, of the so-called marine farm at Potaka Marae, is not regarded as sufficient evidence to warrant even an informal visit to establish the veracity, or otherwise, of its existence, ACT New Zealand Fisheries Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said today.

"The Fisheries Ministry's failure to investigate, under the direction of this new Minister, gives even more credence - if any more was needed - to the view that there is one law for Maori, and one for everyone else," Mr Eckhoff said.

"Mr Benson-Pope is clearly intimidated by threats of physical confrontation against Fisheries staff. He would never have hesitated if allegations of illegal marine farming were levelled at non-Maori.

"This Minister has fallen at his very first hurdle. The Fisheries Ministry should be left to get on with enforcing fisheries law, regardless of race, and should not me subject to Ministerial interference in the day-to-day management of its responsibilities.

"Clearly, Mr Benson-Pope has put a telescope to his blind eye and said: `I see no illegal marine farming, because I'm not prepared to look'. This Minister is clearly out of his depth if he's not even prepared to check allegations of illegal activity.

"If the allegations are correct, and the Potaka marine farm is found to be illegal, then it is a direct challenge to the Labour Government. Prime Minister Helen Clark must now be regretting the appointment of Mr Benson-Pope to this very important job," Mr Eckhoff said.

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