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Keep foreshore and seabed in public domain

Keep foreshore and seabed in public domain

Labour should stick to its guns and place the foreshore and seabed in public domain. It should not be put off by race-based backlash.

Alliance president Jill Ovens says Labour's December proposal should be supported.

The proposal vested the foreshore and seabed in public ownership through the concept of public domain title, which ensured public access to all the people of New Zealand.

"The Alliance supports public ownership of all natural resources and vital infrastructure and this is consistent with that," Ms Ovens says.

"We support placing the foreshore and seabed in public domain so that they cannot be sold."

However, the Government's proposal does allow for sale authorised by or under an Act of Parliament. "We oppose it ever being sold," Ms Ovens says.

The proposal clearly states that existing private titles would eventually be abolished. "We support that and in fact urge the Government to immediately end private ownership of beaches."

The proposal preserves Maori rights under customary title and provides practical solutions to develop working relationships with those who hold mana and ancestral connection over an area of foreshore.

Placing the foreshore and seabed in public domain meant the Government, in partnership with Maori, would ensure sustainable management to preserve the environment.

"It is consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi that the Government works with whanau, hapu and iwi to develop effective working relationships," Ms Ovens says.

The proposal did allow for commercial development, something that Maori interests have often been denied by racist local authorities.

"Labour has done a lousy job of presenting its December proposals which would probably gain widespread public support as a sensible way forward.

"The Government should not panic. It should defend its proposal."

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