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Indecent Haste Over Foreshore Bill

Indecent Haste Over Foreshore Bill

Wednesday 11 Aug 2004

Ken Shirley

Press Releases - Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

ACT New Zealand's representative on the Select Committee hearing the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, Ken Shirley, today urged Labour to pause and await the decision of the Privy Council - which is hearing the Port of Marlborough appeal to the New Zealand Appeal Court decision which triggered the Bill in the first place.

"A wiser government would have joined the port company in taking the case to the Appeal Court, but this case has regrettably become a victim of Labour's determination to cancel the Privy Council's jurisdiction," Mr Shirley said.

"I am disgusted with the indecent haste, and the lack of opportunity for submitters to be heard or Select Committee members to adequately scrutinise important aspects of concern. There are over 4,000 submissions to the Bill, and the Government is using its majority to deny most submitters an opportunity to be heard by the Select Committee.

"To rub salt in the wound, Labour again has used its majority to simply post a public advertisement, rather than inform submitters that their concerns will not be heard by the Committee.

"In 14 years of Parliamentary service I've never seen critical legislation of this nature rammed through a Select Committee in such a perfunctory and ill-considered manner. The Committee Chairman is clearly under instruction by the Executive to have this legislation back in the Parliament - so that it can be passed in advance of the Privy Council decision, which could embarrassingly remove all justification for the legislation.

"Even if the Privy Council does not overturn the Courts' decision, Labour has panicked and over-reacted by bringing this legislation to Parliament. All that the Appeal Court said was that, in rare circumstances, some form of customary title may still exist, but that such title would be difficult to establish.

"Labour's over-reaction has upset all parties and provided a framework for on-going litigation. Maori are infuriated at being denied due process; local government is angered by the invidious position they will encounter in trying to implement part of this nebulous law, and all commercial activities involving the foreshore and seabed are subject to a climate of uncertainty.

"If ever there were a time for a Labour Government to pause, and take a cup of tea, it is now with respect to the Foreshore and Seabed legislation," Mr Shirley said.


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