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National demands briefing on retrospective bill

Gerry Brownlee MP
National Party Maori Affairs Spokesman

15 June 2006

National demands briefing on retrospective bill

National Party Maori Affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee is demanding a briefing on why Labour is slipping through retrospective clauses in a Maori Purposes Bill tabled this week.

“We will want a damn good explanation as to why the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act should be changed to allow judges' activity to be validated in retrospect."

The Maori Purposes Bill amends Te Ture Whenua Maori Act, The Treaty of Waitangi Act, The Maori Fisheries Act and the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act.

It validates 83 decisions or judicial acts by Judge Norman Smith in 2000, after his judicial warrant had expired, and also gives legal force to decisions where there was a question over the powers given to the court's judges.

But Mr Brownlee says the language is extraordinary: ‘… this clause validates things done by Judge Norman F Smith when purporting to exercise jurisdiction as an acting Judge’.

“It’s hardly a technicality, as Parekura Horomia claims, when hundreds of cases are affected.”

The legislation also paves the way for six new judges to be appointed to the Maori Land Court to hear a growing number of cases where Maori are at odds over ownership.

“What’s also troubling is that, when appearing before a select committee, the Minister Responsible For Treaty Negotiations Mark Burton was unaware that the legislation had been tabled,” says Mr Brownlee.

“Does Labour’s left hand not know what the right is doing?”

ENDS

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