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National welcomes Labour back-down on foreshore

Gerry Brownlee MP National Party Maori Affairs Spokesman

18 March 2004

National welcomes Labour back-down on foreshore

National Party Maori Affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee is pleased that Labour is finally listening to the vast majority of New Zealanders who agree with National's campaign to secure Crown ownership over the foreshore and seabed.

"National has held that view since this issue first came to light, other political parties have finally come to the same conclusions and we are pleased that they now appear poised to act in the interests of all New Zealanders.

"But the battle is far from over. National is waiting with interest to see whether the Government's latest U-turn will offer long-term, sustainable solutions.

"It's still not clear whether the Government plans abandon 'customary title', a concept that gives Maori extra rights and would apply to virtually the entire coastline

"National will remain vigilant on behalf of the public, watching carefully to see what concessions are made by Helen Clark in a bid to rope in her unlikely allies, New Zealand First, the Greens, United Future and her own Maori caucus.

"However, the National Party remains firmly opposed to a 'wide ranging' Royal Commission to examine the state of race relations in our country.

"New Zealanders have spoken. They want action on these important issues not yet another politically appointed pseudo tribunal," says Mr Brownlee.

"National sees little point in hitching another carriage to the Treaty Industry gravy train. These are issues that the public should decide.

"Those backing a Royal Commission are unable to make any promises to the public that their clear wish for equality under the law will be realised. Only a National Government can do that.

"Helen Clark is determined to get race relations off the agenda until after the next election. National refuses to accept this political side-step as a viable solution to the pressing issues that are now facing our nation," says Mr Brownlee.

Ends

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