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Government's legitimacy questioned

Government's legitimacy questioned

Wednesday 17 November 2004

Representatives of Wellington group Takutai Moana Poneke Collective today interrupted the debate on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill holding banners saying "Another Colonial Land Grab!" and "Shame" to highlight the government's questionable legitimacy.

"The government's willingness to push this legislation through calls into question their legitimacy" said spokesperson Dr Maria Bargh.

"If any government passes legislation which breaches the Treaty of Waitangi in such fundamental ways, and which violates basic human rights protected in the Bill of Rights Act, the Human Rights Act, and international conventions which New Zealand is a signatory to, then how can they be considered to have any legitimacy at all?

"It is shameful that the current government is behaving in a manner strongly reminiscent of the worst colonial excesses of the past - the Foreshore and Seabed Bill can only be described as another colonial land grab.

"This is a continuation of the wrongs of the past and will create justified grievances and conflict in to the future."

There has been continued strong opposition to the Government's foreshore and seabed policy for the past seventeen months from Maori, and non-Maori, because it is unfair, unjust and unnecessary. The first proposals were rejected at all of the Government's so-called consultation hui.

The Waitangi Tribunal earlier this year found that the Government's foreshore and seabed policy is a serious breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, and of national and international human rights standards.

In May more than 25,000 people participated in the Hikoi to parliament to oppose the legislation. Then 94% of all submitters to the Select Committee hearing the Bill rejected its intent and content. The Human Rights Commission stated that the Bill breaches human rights protected under NZ law and in international conventions. A second Hikoi took place in Auckland where thousands again expressed opposition to the Bill.

Interventions have been made at the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. There are currently two complaints about the Foreshore and Seabed Bill before the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination which urgently requested information from the Government about the Bill.

Despite all of this, the government has paid no attention to what people are saying about the confiscation legislation.

"What possible justification there can be for government politicians being so intent on legislating away a Court of Appeal ruling, breaching the Treaty, violating basic human rights, overriding common law - essentially breaking the law themselves. How can they possible consider they have any legitimacy to govern when this is the way they behave?" concluded Dr Bargh.


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