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Don Brash Writes: No. 55, 13 April 2005

Don Brash Writes: No. 55, 13 April 2005

Labour's Foreshore and Seabed duplicity revealed

Last week I went to the Bay of Plenty to highlight the way in which their foreshore and seabed policy was coming apart at the seams.

When in the middle of 2003 the Court of Appeal overturned the long-held view of the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders that the Crown owned the foreshore and seabed on behalf of all New Zealanders, Labour could have done one of two things.

They could have appealed the decision to the Privy Council. But they chose not to do that, probably because they had already decided to severe all links to the Privy Council.

Alternatively, they could have passed legislation promptly to make it clear that what we had all long believed was in fact the reality, namely that the Crown owned the foreshore and seabed. The National Party would have supported the rapid passage of such legislation to avoid decades of costly litigation and uncertainty.

Labour did neither of these things. Instead, they embarked on a long series of consultations with Maori interests. They were essentially playing a double game, assuring Maori that they had an interest in the foreshore and seabed and that that interest would be protected by the Labour Government, while assuring other New Zealanders that they should not be concerned because the foreshore and seabed would be placed into the "public domain", later Crown ownership.

The National Party warned that this would eventually end in tears. Not many people believed us, and Helen Clark and Michael Cullen won brownie points for appearing to "solve" a difficult problem.

Well, the flapping of wings as chickens come home to roost is now clearly audible. A few weeks ago, Whakatohea, an iwi in the Bay of Plenty, lodged a claim with the Maori Land Court for guardianship of and authority over 50 kilometres of coastline. Judge Williams of the Maori Land Court agreed to hear the claim, noting that the Government's Foreshore and Seabed Act appeared to contemplate just this approach.

It didn't take long for another iwi to note their own interest in the Bay of Plenty coastline, some of it over-lapping with the Whakatohea claim. And then Dr Pita Sharples, co-leader of the Maori Party, noted that if the Whakatohea claim was successful there would soon be a "barrage of applications" from other Maori. He also seemed to agree that a successful claim would give Maori a right to veto consents relevant to the coastline, granted under the Resource Management Act.

National says that this is crazy and must be stopped if we are to have a peaceful future for New Zealand. To be sure, customary rights to gather mutton-birds or launch waka from a particular site can be protected in the context of a Treaty settlement, but allowing large areas of coastline to be controlled by one ethnic group is a recipe for disaster.

Recent and prospective speeches

Last week, I sent to those who regularly receive this newsletter a copy of a speech I gave on 1 April committing National to reducing both the carnage on New Zealand roads and the congestion caused by at least two decades of under-investment in the road network. I committed the next National Government to progressively spending all the money raised from the petrol excise tax on new road construction - one of the largest single spending commitments we will be making before the election, but one which I am absolutely convinced is warranted.

Last weekend, I addressed the Lower North Island regional conference of the National Party, and focused on the increasingly obvious need to increase the number of police devoted to solving crime. The serious problems with the 111 emergency call system, the thousands of crimes "unassigned" to any police officer, the inability of the police to prosecute offenders even when the identity of the offender is well known and captured on video, the cries for help from the mayors of our major cities all over the country - these all suggest a very serious problem, and one which makes a mockery of the Labour Government's claim that reported crime has declined a little recently. It seems highly likely that many people have simply given up reporting crime.

Yesterday, I addressed the annual conference of Grey Power in Rotorua. I reiterated National's promise to continue New Zealand Superannuation on the same basis as currently (65% of the average wage for a married couple, at age 65, without surcharge or means test), and to continue paying into the New Zealand Superannuation Fund on the present basis to give older New Zealanders the confidence that superannuation will be available for them in the future. But I also urged older New Zealanders not to be hoodwinked by grandiose promises from some of the smaller political parties - promises which would sound very attractive but which, of course, they would never have to honour because those smaller parties would inevitably be in coalition with one of the two large parties, and could blame them for not being able to honour their promised generosity.

And later today I will be giving a major speech on education at a meeting on the North Shore of Auckland. I will send recipients of this newsletter a copy of the speech within the next day or so.

Don Brash

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