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Rights Eroded By Foreshore Bill

1 September 2004

Rights Eroded By Foreshore Bill

The Foreshore and Seabed Bill is an attack on the rights of all New Zealanders, says Tom Lambie, President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"Farmers' property rights, Maori customary rights, and the right of public access over the foreshore will all be eroded if the bill becomes law," Mr Lambie said.

Mr Lambie made the comments in Federated Farmers' submission to the Fisheries and Other Sea-Related Legislation Select Committee, which is considering the Foreshore and Seabed Bill.

"Many of our members own coastal land which includes part of the foreshore and this Bill creates a public right of access over this land. It is unconstitutional for rights to be taken in this way without compensation being paid.

“But these aren’t the only rights being legislated away by the Bill.

“The long standing common law rights of owners of coastal land in their adjacent areas of foreshore and seabed are completely disregarded in the Bill. These land owners are entitled to participation in managing the foreshore and seabed alongside Maori with ancestral or customary rights,” Mr Lambie said.

Federated Farmers generally supports the public foreshore and seabed being vested in the Crown, with rights of public access guaranteed, and with existing private rights and interests (including customary interests) protected. But Mr Lambie pointed out that the public already has right of access to the public foreshore and seabed, and the Bill would actually lessen that right.

“The Bill gives extensive powers to the Minister of Conservation to close off access to areas of public foreshore and seabed. No one has those powers at present. We think those powers, if really needed, should be reserved for Parliament."

“This Bill needs a thorough revamp to ensure that everybody’s rights and interests in the foreshore and seabed are properly protected,” Mr Lambie said.


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