Beehive Bulletin Fri, 19 Nov 2004
Beehive Bulletin Fri, 19 Nov
New Zealanders will discover when they go to the beach this summer that the effect of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, passed this week, is to preserve the status quo. Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen says Crown ownership is confirmed by the legislation and traditional rights of public access are safeguarded. Groups will be able to secure customary rights orders protecting their right to continue any activities, uses and practices they have been exercising substantially uninterrupted since 1840.
This does not include customary fishing rights as these were provided for separately in the fisheries settlement. Where a group can demonstrate that, but for the passage of the Bill, they would have held a Territorial Customary Right equivalent to exclusive use and occupation, they will be able to seek from the High Court the establishment of a Foreshore and Seabed Reserve or approach the government to discuss other redress options. Any reserve would acknowledge the guardianship status of the group but would also be held for the common use and benefit of all New Zealanders, says Michael Cullen.
Traditional Maori rights and interests will be guaranteed, protected and enhanced in perpetuity by the passing of the foreshore and seabed legislation, says Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia. Maori had nothing to fear from the legislation, with customary rights and the interests of whanau, hapu and iwi, acknowledged and protected. Parekura Horomia says access to and use of the foreshore and beaches has always been an integral part of Maori culture, of New Zealand culture and that didn't change with the passing of the Bill. Rather, it ensured all New Zealanders - Maori and non-Maori - will own the foreshore and seabed forever and there will be free access for everyone.
Prime Minister Helen Clark has announced a review of New Zealand's constitutional arrangements. She says the government believes the job should be done by a special select committee of Parliament, chaired by United Future leader Peter Dunne, with representation from all parties in Parliament who wish to participate. The committee's terms of reference will invite a stocktake of how our constitution has developed to where it is today; and to analyse the current arrangements. It's anticipated the committee will report back, at least on an interim basis, before the 2005 general election. Helen Clark says constitutional arrangements should reflect a nation's sense of identity. For that reason, any future proposals for change would take time to develop, and would need a full and proper process of public discussion and involvement.
Environment Minister Marian Hobbs has intervened in the Auckland land contamination controversy. Marian Hobbs says a Ministry for the Environment draft guideline on managing contaminated land advises that a property should not be considered a 'contaminated site' until investigation shows the actual presence of contaminants and a risk to human health or the environment.
Early Land Information Memorandum - LIM - notification on property records was likely to distract from the real issue of following a good process to identify actual risks. Marian Hobbs has asked the Ministry for Environment to investigate whether a council would fulfil its statutory duty by placing a notice on a LIM only when it is confirmed that there is an unacceptable health risk from contaminants on a property. The government would also consider paying for soil testing on private properties in conjunction with city and regional councils after an effective sampling regime has been designed.
A significant momentum for change now exists around some highly complex and difficult areas of tax law, says Finance Minister Michael Cullen. He was commenting on the release of Craig Stobo's report: Toward Consensus on the Taxation of Investment Income. A key issue for the report was that direct investment in New Zealand shares does not attract a tax on the capital gain unlike indirect investment via a managed fund. Michael Cullen congratulated Mr Stobo on the high standard of leadership he had brought to the task, saying the government should now be in a position to outline in the coming budget its decisions in the area and to seek further consultation on the details. See the report at www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz
The number of students with special education needs receiving additional specialist teacher and support time is to increase from 550 to 1000 per year from 2005. Associate Education Minister Marian Hobbs says the government is committing $18.3 million in funding over the next four years to support this initiative. By providing the students with dedicated specialist teacher time and extra specialist support, the teachers will be able to develop and provide a meaningful learning programme. Marian Hobbs says by increasing the number of students covered, the government is continuing to address the longstanding issue of students who are not adequately supported through existing initiatives.