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Dysfunctional Committee Fails In Foreshore Bill

4 November 2004

Dysfunctional Committee Fails To Fix Foreshore Bill

Farmers are very disappointed that the foreshore and seabed select committee has failed to recognise the crucial importance of protecting property rights, said Charlie Pedersen, Vice President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

His comments followed the release today of the Fisheries and Other Sea-Related Legislation Select Committee report on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill. The committee has not been able to agree to recommend any changes to the Bill, with the political parties represented on the committee each producing separate reports.

"Protection of existing property rights was the key issue that needed to be fixed in the foreshore and seabed legislation. It is very disappointing that a dysfunctional select. committee could not agree to any changes which would stop erosion of property rights," Mr Pedersen said.

"Farmers' property rights, Maori customary rights, and the right of public access over the foreshore will all be eroded if the Bill becomes law without substantial changes. Everyone will lose out if the Bill is enacted in its present form.

“Owners of coastal land have long standing common law rights over adjacent areas of foreshore and seabed. These land owners are entitled to participate in managing the foreshore and seabed alongside those who have ancestral or customary rights. Under the Bill, that will not happen,” Mr Pedersen 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.

Mr Pedersen said the public already had right of access to the public foreshore and seabed, and that, as it stands, the Bill would 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.

“Federated Farmers urges Parliament to thoroughly revamp the Bill to ensure that everybody’s rights and interests in the foreshore and seabed are properly protected,” Mr Pedersen said.


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