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Labour In Trouble Over Fisheries Settlement

A stinging attack by the Treaty Tribes Coalition exposes a serious internal rift within the Government, ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today.

The Treaty Tribes Coalition, which represented 63 per cent of Maori, today said it had lost total confidence in Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia and Prime Minister Helen Clark over the Government’s failure to move ahead and ratify the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries settlement.

Mr Shirley said the Government was robbing Maori of wealth by “arrogantly disregarding” attempts by the Treaty Tribes Coalition to unlock the Maori fisheries assets.

“For the first time, a Maori coalition with a mandate, calls for urgent action and the Government ignores them. If this Government delivered on the fisheries settlement it would do more to raise up Maori economically, than any of its other race-based social engineering policies,” Mr Shirley said.

He said Labour’s pathetic attempt to be “all things to all Maori,” with its closing the gaps policy, had led to deep divisions within its own powerful Maori caucus, and left the Coalition Government “hopelessly split” on the fisheries issue.

He said 10 years of bitter wrangling between rural iwi and urban Maori had cost $1 million a month, and it was forecast that the loss would compound to $84 million by 2006, unless the allocation was addressed quickly.

Mr Shirley, who was the Minister responsible for the initial allocation to the Waitangi Fisheries Tribunal under the last Labour Government, said ACT MPs fully supported the Treaty Tribes Coalition proposal, because it best represented the property right secured under Article 2 of the treaty.

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Mr Shirley has also submitted a Private Members Bill, promoting that proposal.

Mr Shirley said the coalition’s warning that the Government risked losing the Maori seats at the next General Election, because of its ham-fisted handling of the fisheries settlement, was a “damning indictment” of the Government’s failure to listen and address urgent Maori issues.

“This is a clear indication that this Government is now bereft of any moral authority to represent the views of the majority of Maori,” Mr Shirley said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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