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QC Accuses Govt Of Totalitarianism Over Compo Deal


Dunedin QC Colin Withnall told the Primary Production Select Committee today, that Parliament was in disrepute and contempt as a result of a government decision not to compensate fishers for the economic loss they would suffer as a result of losing quota to settle Treaty Grievances.

The Government has included legislation in the Fisheries Amendment Bill No 2 to stop any compensation to fishermen who suffered a loss of fishing rights to settle Treaty claims. Under the Maori Fisheries Settlement Act of 1992, Maori are entitled to 20 percent of all quota as it becomes part of the Quota Management System.

Mr Withnall said he appeared before the Select Committee, out of concern “ as a citizen and an individual,” who represented the interests of many fishers who were affected by the Bill.

Mr Withnall said the bill was another example of increasing legislative erosion of basic constitutional rights and freedoms.

“ It amounts to creeping nationalisation of privately owned resources at the expense of owners and is repugnant to the ideals and instruments on which Western Democracy is founded,” he told the Select Committee in his submission.

Mr Withnall told the committee that when something was done for the public good and there was a cost, then the public must bear the cost.

“To tamper with that is to do so at the peril of free society.”

Seafood Industry Council chief executive John Valentine said he was delighted that Mr Withnall had made the submission.

“The industry has always felt that this issue had wider ramifications than the Seafood Industry. If the Government is willing to deny compensation to fishermen who lose some of their property to settle Treaty claims then ordinary New Zealanders should be very concerned.”

However the select committee has listened carefully to the arguments put forward by the industry and in particular those presented by Mr Withnall, Dr Valentine said.

“SeaFIC has offered the government a fair solution through negotiated settlement to stop the government from having to set a dangerous precedent which affects the property rights of all New Zealanders.”

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