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Govt’s empty rhetoric won’t protect foreshore

15 March 2005

Govt’s empty rhetoric won’t protect foreshore & seabed

The Government’s broken promises on its Foreshore and Seabed Act have done nothing to allay the concerns of Kiwis worried their prized beaches could soon be sold off to the highest bidder, the Green Party says.

The Energy Ministry is considering an application from Black Sands Exploration Ltd, a subsidiary of China-based mining company Best Quality Life Group, to mine 3617 square kilometres of seabed from Taranaki to the Kaipara Harbour.

“While the Government says its Act preserves the public foreshore and seabed in perpetuity as the common heritage of all New Zealanders, it’s clearly thinking about opening it up for exploration,” Green Maori Affairs Spokesperson Metiria Turei said.

“No amount of empty rhetoric will obscure the fact the Government is now within its legal rights to offer up exploration rights of the foreshore and seabed to companies willing to pay the right price.

“Now that it has legislatively crushed all confusion about ownership of the foreshore and seabed and made mining exploration more attractive through tax incentives, it’s clear what the Government sees as the future of our precious marine resources to be. That future is a gradual sell-off of exploration and then mining rights to the foreshore and seabed.

“This is not the sort of public interest protection that the Government promised at the time of introducing the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, and this is certainly not in the interest of New Zealanders, whether Maori or Pakeha.

“Already, environmental protections against exploration and mining practices – devastating to our marine resources – are weak. However, proposed changes to the Resource Management Act make them even more so.

“Maori knew that the purpose of the Foreshore and Seabed Act was to give the Government the right to sell off the seabed to the highest bidder. If the Economic Development Minister and Crown Minerals Group agree to this application, that is exactly what they will be doing. Maori objections to the bill have been proved correct and the promises to protect the coast broken.”

ENDS

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