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Tribunal Ruling on Radio Waves a Farce - ACT

Thursday 1st Jul 1999

Ken Shirley

ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley has slammed the latest Waitangi Tribunal Report on the allocation and auctioning of radiowaves and is calling on the Government to legislate the bounds of Treaty claims.

"We have a situation with the Waitangi Tribunal spending precious taxpayers resources deliberating on farcical claims relating to the ownership of the radio waves, air, water, sunlight and native flora and fauna while the true job of addressing legitimate grievances drags on indefinitely.

"Tribunal Judge Savage acknowledged that the electro-magnetic spectrum was unknown in 1840 and yet perversely relates the nurturing of Maori language to the allocation of spectrum.

"If Government has specifically established Te Mangai Paho to promote Maori broadcasting including the nurturing of Te Reo, the allocation of spectrum should not be confused with this function.

"The sad reality is that any delay in resolving the allocation can only hold back economic development and job creation as communication technologies increasingly underpin efficient enterprises. Rather than improving outcomes for Maori and New Zealand society in general, these wranglings are stifling progress and limiting opportunities.

"We now have some 780 claims before the Waitangi Tribunal and over the last 25 years of the Tribunal's existence, we have only averaged one settlement per year. At the current rate of settlement, if no new claims are lodged, the process is set to stretch out for hundreds of years unless we set a time limit for the fair, full and final settlement of all Treaty Claims.

"The Government can no longer stand by and watch this farcical situation and must legislate to confine the Waitangi Tribunal to its true task. The Treaty grievance industry, supported by consultants and lawyers, should be given a clear signal that the New Zealand taxpayer has had enough of the nonsense," said Ken Shirley.

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