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Greens firm on Foreshore and Seabed

7 April, 2004

Greens firm on Foreshore and Seabed

The Green Party has told the Government this morning that it will oppose the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

"We were asked to abstain because the Government may not have the numbers to proceed," said Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. "In our view, abstaining in that situation would have the same effect as voting in favour and would break faith with our constituency which wants a resolution that does not confiscate Maori legal rights.

"This morning it appears the debate is down to two words - 'public domain'. I cannot believe that New Zealand First is holding the country to ransom, having previously assured the Government of his support, demanding the removal of two words.

"Nor can I believe that Peter Dunne is threatening on radio this morning to withdraw support for a Bill he has committed to if these two words are removed.

"The silly thing is, those two words have no legal meaning whatsoever. Crown title, with or without 'public domain' means the foreshore is protected from sale only until another government introduces legislation to sell it. We all saw how easily such legislation passed with the sale of Contact Energy once National had the numbers to do it.

"Both parties are ignoring the fundamental issues: how do we protect public access and environmental sustainability of the foreshore without overriding Maori legal rights to take their claims to court, and to have their title recognised if it exists?

"There are easy ways to do this, which the Greens have proposed but in which the Government and other parties are not interested. We have set out legal amendments to the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act that would stop the issuing of fee simple but preserve good faith with Maori. We have pointed to examples of how coastal land is managed now with Maori title and public access and sustainable management.

"We will continue to put these proposals forward during the select committee process in the hope that the Government will rethink its position."


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