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Foreshore and Seabed Act - the poisoned chalice?

Gerry Brownlee – In The House
22 April 2005

Foreshore and Seabed Act - the poisoned chalice?

This week began with a group of government officials being greeted at Gisborne Airport by angry Maori protesters when they went to meet Ngati Porou over their sneaky deal over the ownership of the East Coast coastline.

During the passage of the foreshore and seabed legislation, Labour MPs were telling Maori that they would still be able to claim ownership of our coasts by negotiating directly with the Crown, and so it has come to pass.

It is only a matter of time before more and more iwi come forward and start negotiating over the rest of our foreshore and seabed. This is the very thing National said would happen with the legislation - it would exacerbate the Treaty grievances.

Since the law came into effect in January, Labour has been very busy silencing, until after the election, any iwi planning to lodge claims. That obviously hasn't worked.

The next thing that should be a worry for Labour - and obviously brought Tamihere back from stress leave on Wednesday - were the results of the Marae-Digi poll. Although this poll had a small sample size, the result was unmistakable - the Maori Party has a real chance of winning at least five of the seven Maori seats in the election. This shows just how damaging the foreshore and seabed legislation has been to Labour's traditional support from Maori. Only time will tell.

Apparently ACC knows best

One of the big issues of the Christmas season this year was the announcement by ACC that they were going to axe five rural rescue helicopters. That was until the pressure was applied by National Party MPs Tony Ryall and Simon Power, and candidates Nathan Guy (Otaki) and Anne Tolley (East Coast).

Thanks to their efforts, ACC did a U-turn on this preposterous idea. Who was the bright spark who thought it would be a good idea to cover the top of the South Island and the lower half of the North Island with a single helicopter based in Wellington?

As Simon Power revealed this week, ACC had been told by the Ministry of Health that the plan was a stupid idea - something it had been doing for 12 months before the release of the draft National Air Ambulance Strategy. But of course, ACC thought they knew best.

The Ministry was pretty damming of the Strategy, saying the objectives were unclear, there would be an adverse public reaction, and there would be no political support for such a move (noting the euphemistic terms used here).

One day out from the release of the Strategy, the Ministry told ACC the Strategy was "fundamentally flawed in that it concentrates on the well-serviced urban areas and does not provide funding solutions for remoter rural areas". In other words, ACC expected the rural communities to do it themselves. But, of course, ACC thought they knew best.

But before ACC could put this plan into action - endangering lives in the process - the Minster for ACC, Ruth Dyson, buckled under the pressure and did a spectacular U-turn.

Anzac Day

This coming Monday is an important day in New Zealand's history - the 90th anniversary of the Anzac campaign. Around the country there will be commemorations for the landing of New Zealand and Australian troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915 during World War I.

New Zealand's sacrifice was so great, and the Anzac contribution so distinct, that New Zealand as a nation came of age. In the face of fierce opposition, New Zealanders demonstrated loyalty, courage, determination, initiative and compassion. They earned the respect of both their allies and their enemies.

Anzac Day is a time for remembrance and thanks. It is a special day in our history and a chance to celebrate the courage and strength of the men and women of our armed forces - past, present and future - without division.

I hope you are able to enjoy the time with your family, and find time to reflect on those who went before us and gave their all for our wonderful country. Lest we forget

Gerry Brownlee

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