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Tamihere caught telling Parliament porkies

National Party MP 26 May 2004

Minister must go: Tamihere caught telling Parliament porkies

Official papers released this week show that Land Information Minister John Tamihere repeatedly misled the public and Parliament over the extent of private ownership of the foreshore.

"The Minister of Land Information has been shown to have deliberately spread misinformation and must resign or be sacked," says National MP Nick Smith.

"The Minister repeatedly confirmed in Parliament last August that 'a significant chunk of foreshore - not the Queen's Chain, the foreshore - has private title and that we are talking thousands not hundreds of kilometres of private title to the foreshore'.

"On three occasions he asserted this was on the basis of work by Land Information NZ.

"This was despite specific advice on private ownership of the foreshore and seabed in two reports in July to him from LINZ that 'the quantum is very small'.

"The foreshore and seabed is the biggest political issue confronting this term of Parliament and you cannot have the Minister responsible for key information telling untruths.

"Public confidence in this Government is plummeting because Ministers are repeatedly telling untruths when under pressure.

"There is a long-standing convention that if an MP deliberately misleads Parliament, he or she must resign. Mr Tamihere must follow Leanne Dalziel's honourable example," Dr Smith says.

Chronology Of Events

On Foreshore And Seabed Ownership Claims

Hon John Tamihere: Minister of Land (Mis) Information

18 July 2003 Memo to Minister “Foreshore and Seabed”(1)

“You have requested a report on how much foreshore and seabed is privately owned and how this came to be.” (Para 9).

“Officials preliminary view is that the quantum is very small.” (Para 3).

25 July 2003 Memo to Minister “Ownership of NZ’s Foreshore and Seabed.”(2)

“On 18 July you received a written briefing that concluded that the quantum of land is expected to be very small. This view has not changed.” (Para 1). “It is estimated that only a very small amount of privately owned land would extend below the mean high water mark.” (Para 5).

2 August 2003 NZ Herald “Third of Foreshore off limits.”(3)

“The public has no right to stroll along more than a third of New Zealand beaches and large chucks of the foreshore and seabed are already held in private ownership. This is revealed in two reports prepared for Government.” News report quotes Minister for Land Information saying, “a significant amount was privately owned.”

6 August 2003 NZ Herald “Government Beach Talk Light on Details.’(4)

Mr Tamihere reiterated his assertion last week that significant chunks of the foreshore “we’re talking hundreds” of kilometres were also held in private ownership.

6 August 2003 Hansard Oral Question 4.(5)

Q. Smith “Does the Minister stand by his statement to the New Zealand Herald that “significant chunks of the foreshore – not the Queens Chain, the foreshore – “has private ownership title” and that we are talking thousands and not hundreds of kilometres of private title to the foreshore? If he does stand by that, when will he deliver the proof to back up that claim?”

A. Tamihere “Given the preliminary work done, and given the fact that it is a hugely complex issue, I stand by those statements.”

6 August 2003 TVNZ Holmes Show.(6)

Holmes “You say Mr Tamihere, you say the significant parts of the foreshore in New Zealand are in private ownership. Where are they”?

Tamihere “I’m saying two thirds are in the public domain and at this stage one, one third“

Tamihere “One third of the beaches are potentially privately owned.”

7 August 2003 NZ Herald “Foreshore Facts as Murky as the Tide.”(7)

Land information Minister is sticking to his comments in the Herald last week that significant chunks of the foreshore were in private ownership. He said then that more than 1000 km of foreshore was privately owned.”

In response to DOC advice “The proportion of private title is probably less than 1% of the coastline,” he said, “It is not correct.”

12 August 2003 Hansard Question 6.(8)

Q. Smith “Why did he say “I stand by those statements” in response to my question last Wednesday., “Does thre Minister stand by his statement to the New Zealand Herald that: ‘significant chunks of the foreshore’ – not the Queens Chain, the foreshore – ‘has private title’and that we are talking thousands not hundreds of kilometrea of private title to the foreshore?”, when the Department of Conservation office solicitor told the Planning and Development Committee in respect of the foreshore”the proportion of private title os probably very small ( less than 1% of the coastline)” and the Prime Minister is reported as saying today foreshore ownwership a”very small amount”?

A. Tamihere “Given the preliminary work done and given the fact that it was a hugely complex issue, I stand by those statements.”

13 August 2003 Hansard Question 7.(9)

Q. Smith “ Does he agree with the Prime Ministers statement that the amount of foreshore in private ownership is a “very small amount,” if not why not?

A. Tamahere “Yes”.

Q. Cosgrove “On what basis did the Minister make his initial assessment regarding the coastline.”

A. Tamihere “I made it clear at the time that my statements were based on Land Information NZ’s advice, which was drawn from it’s preliminary work in the area. I have made information available as it comes to hand in a bid to inform the public of New Zealand at the earliest possible time.”

17 September 2003 Official Information Act Request (10)

Smith OIA written request to LINZ, referred to Minster. Request refused on grounds that policy not finalised. (This was not about policy). Reapplied after legislation introduced.

24 May 2004 Minister releases OIA request (11)


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