Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Why Public Domain Matters

Why Public Domain Matters

Opinion from Peter Dunne - Leader, United Future NZ

In the wake of the latest seabed and foreshore debacle much attention has focused on the term “public domain” and whether its deletion from the draft legislation makes any difference. The simplistic view is that the whole debate is merely over two words that have no legal force.

The truth of course is more substantial than that. It goes to the very heart of the debate the country has been engaged over the last nine months since the Court of Appeal first upset the hitherto tranquil waters about who owned the foreshore and seabed.

In the aftermath, the strong assumption across the country was that the foreshore and seabed belonged – as they always had done – to all the people of New Zealand and that no court or Parliament had the right to overturn. That is what led Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson in what now seem precipitate and knee jerk reactions of the time to assert Crown ownership so unambiguously. The problem was that the legal basis going back to 1854 for Crown ownership was anything but unambiguous with various governments being advised up to as recently as the 1980s that simple Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed was very difficult to determine. And resolving that ambiguity has been what the last nine months has been all about.

The concept of public domain was proposed for two broad reasons. The first was to make it as clear as possible that all New Zealanders had equal rights of access to and enjoyment of the foreshore and seabed, and drew very much on the old English notion of the “common” land, reflected to this day in areas like the common in most English towns, and the Auckland Domain and similar domains throughout our own country. The second reason was to strengthen the ambiguous nature of Crown ownership. As it stands, there is nothing to stop a future government for ideological reasons determining to privatise the foreshore and seabed, nor is there anything to prevent them giving away tracts of the foreshore and seabed for exclusive ownership as part of a Treaty settlement process, for example. The moral force of the additional concept the foreshore and seabed being held in perpetuity as public domain for the people of New Zealand would have made both possibilities more unlikely. In that regard, public domain provides far more specificity and security for current and future generations than the Bill’s current limited Crown ownership proposal does.

The political manoeuvrings of recent days change none of that. United Future makes no apology for not being prepared to cave in and accept a lesser standard of ownership, just to make up the numbers. This issue is far more important than political expediency and far more substantial than just two words. Since June last year New Zealanders have been angered, embittered, and frustrated over this issue. They know what they want – a clear, unambiguous recognition of their common ownership of the foreshore and seabed and an assurance that will not be changed – and they expect Parliament to act to uphold that wish. They do not expect major issues of this nature that go to the core of our national birthright to be determined by last minute, shabby backroom deals brought on by the desperate need for a majority because of internal dissent. Yet, sadly, that is precisely what they have ended up with – and the precious notion of our common ownership has paid the price.

It is the worst possible Easter for all New Zealanders which is why United Future will have no part of it.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Also, Loan Interest: Productivity Commission On Tertiary Education

Key recommendations include better quality control; making it easier for students to transfer between courses; abolishing University Entrance; enabling tertiary institutions to own and control their assets; making it easier for new providers to enter the system; and facilitating more and faster innovation by tertiary education providers... More>>

ALSO:

Higher Payments: Wellington Regional Council Becomes A Living Wage Employer

Councillor Sue Kedgley said she was delighted that the Wellington Regional Council unanimously adopted her motion to become a Living Wage employer, making it the first regional council in New Zealand to do so. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Images:
Dame Patsy Reddy Sworn In As Governor-General

This morning Dame Patsy Reddy was sworn in as the New Zealand Realm’s 21st Governor-General. The ceremony began with a pōwhiri to welcome Dame Patsy and her husband Sir David Gascoigne to Parliament. More>>

ALSO:

Ruataniwha: DOC, Hawke's Bay Council Developer Take Supreme Court Appeal

The Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) are appealing to the Supreme Court over a conservation land swap which the Court of Appeal halted. More>>

ALSO:

With NZ's Marama Davidson: Women’s Flotilla Leaves Sicily – Heading For Gaza

Women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey yesterday on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Key Style Of Crisis Management

At Monday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “Problem? What problem?” mode. No, there wasn’t really a problem that top MPI officials had been at odds with each other over the meaning of the fisheries policy and how that policy should be pursued... More>>

ALSO:

Mt Roskill: Greens Will Not Stand In Likely Post-Goff By-Election

“The Green Party’s priority is changing the Government in 2017, and as part of that we’ve decided that we won’t stand a candidate in the probable Mt Roskill by-election... This decision shows the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party is working." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news