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Crown Counsel fails in Waitangi Tribunal mission

Richard Worth National Justice Spokesman

21 October 2003
Crown Counsel fails in Waitangi Tribunal mission

National's Justice spokesman Richard Worth is slating today's admission by the Acting Prime Minister that Crown Counsel was not properly briefed at the judicial conference before the Waitangi Tribunal on the foreshore and seabed.

"Michael Cullen acknowledged the failure in Parliament this afternoon," says Mr Worth.

"The issues which the Tribunal is being asked to deal with are serious questions for all New Zealanders. Yet we have a situation where Crown Counsel, apparently in seeking deferment of an urgent hearing, clearly provided wrong information to the court.

"The lawyer concerned was unable to confirm whether the Crown was committed to maintaining four principles which have apparently been established as a negotiation baseline," says Mr Worth.

"Lawyers for the Maori claimants said they had been placed in an impossible situation by the request for the adjournment. But it is much worse than that. The Acting Prime Minister is saying that the information placed before the Court was either incomplete, or wrong.

"As the Government dithers from its first announced position that 'the Crown owns the seabed and foreshore and would legislate to make that clear', unrealistic Maori expectations are permitted to gain impetus. This is wrong.

"In this continuing saga, when can we expect correct information to be placed before the Waitangi Tribunal so the parties and public can know the true position?" asks Mr Worth.

Ends

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