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Foreshore Bill endangers NZ’s social progress

Thursday 4 November, 2004

Foreshore Bill endangers NZ’s social progress

United Future MP, Larry Baldock, says the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, reported back from select committee to Parliament today, is seriously flawed and will not be supported by his party.

“United Future regrets that after hearing from more than 4000 submitters the committee was unable to reach agreement on amendments to improve the Bill, which will now have to be debated and amended by the whole Parliament,” Mr Baldock said, who was a member of the select committee.

“I believe it’s clear that much work needs to be done if this Bill is to be amended to address the concerns of many submitters.

“Our country’s progress over the last decades of addressing our bi-cultural past founded on the Treaty of Waitangi in the midst of a developing multi-cultural society in the 21st century is in danger of taking a step backwards rather than forwards.”

“Among our specific concerns with the Bill are the vesting of ownership of the foreshore and seabed in the Crown rather than in the public domain. Many submitters were suspicious that Crown ownership leaves open the possibility of the land being disposed of by the Crown at a later date.

“We would prefer to see the barriers to future alienation of the foreshore and seabed raised significantly through entrenching the relevant clauses of any legislation.

“In plain language, that means any such proposal would have to be approved by much more than a simple majority in Parliament.

“Entrenchment would reassure the New Zealand public that future alienation of the foreshore and seabed by a rogue Government would be extremely difficult,” said Mr Baldock.

Mr Baldock’s minority report on the Bill points to other inadequacies in the Bill, such as the proposed removal of common-law rights to fishing and the opportunistic attempt by the Government to grab ownership of reclaimed land that is no longer foreshore or seabed.

“United Future has pushed strongly for the removal of the clause relating to fishing and I am reasonably confident that will be done when it is debated in the House. However, I will wait to see what happens there before claiming a victory.

“I remain concerned that, no matter what form the final Bill takes, little thought has been given to explaining the amendments and their implications to the New Zealand public.

“To rely only on the media for this process, and the politicising of the issue as parties make their various points to appeal to voters, is risky at best and irresponsible at worst,” said Mr Baldock.


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