Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

The Column


The Column

By Muriel Newman

One Law for All?

INTRO: This week’s column considers the disturbing effects of Labour’s new Foreshore and Seabed race-based policy just announced.

The Labour Government’s strategy of announcing their response to the seabed and foreshore fiasco on the day after the House has risen for the Christmas break illustrates the absolute disdain in which they hold the process of public scrutiny that underpins the parliamentary process. Vigorous debate and robust enquiry by opposition Parliamentarians are at the heart of a healthy Westminster democracy. The Government’s heavy handed dismissal of the need for that process adds weight to growing public disquiet that Labour is becoming more arrogant and dictatorial by the day.

This issue is one of the most important to face a modern day New Zealand government. Who owns the beaches and seabed is a matter of fundamental importance to each and every one of us. It is particularly poignant at this time of year as the annual migration to the beach is about to begin.

Yet Labour in a style reflective of the totalitarian left, after a period of hasty consultation with Maori and little consultation with anyone else, and without any regard to the views of other parliamentary parties – all of who have also had to wrestle with the issue – have decided to announce their so-called solution today. The worst aspect of this approach is that even if they come up with an unworkable response by using their compliant coalition parties they will still be able to cobble together a majority in the House to pass their “we know best” remedy into law.

No one has tried to suggest that this is a simple issue. The root of the problem lies at the feet of the Court of Appeal. It now appears that under the influence of activist Judges, the Court of Appeal got it wrong by overturning the long standing decision made by the same court in 1963 on the Ninety Mile Beach case.

The situation has always been that the Crown owns the foreshore and seabed except in exceptional circumstances where private titles have been vested. These are best known as properties with riparian rights as well as local authority holdings, including former Harbour Board lands. This position is consistent with the international recognition of New Zealand’s territorial waters and our exclusive economic zone.

While customary rights have been argued by for Maori, whose continued custom and use of some coastal property dates back to 1840, there has been – until now - no legal mechanism for the granting of such title.

The government’s so-called “solution” to this fraught issue looks set to create a furore rather than solve the problem. It plans to repeal Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed in favour of a new “public domain” provision. The notion of a “public domain” erodes the concept of property rights that has always formed the foundation of any property-owning democracy. While this change does not look likely to immediately affect properties with riparian rights, the Government has stated that it intends to bring those into the public domain as well.

Much of the Government’s response appears to be aimed at appeasing Maori concerns: the Maori Land Court will be changed to enable it to award customary title. While the stated intention is that such title “would sit alongside the public domain title” and “not alter reasonable and appropriate public access”, the document then goes on to state that Maori will have clear management and use rights including those of a commercial nature. These commercial interests appear to be widespread: “When applications for coastal permit are received, the regional council or other decision makers will be required to consider whether the proposed activity would have a significant impact on a customary right. If so, the application will not be approved unless the holder of customary right consents to it”.

Along with the establishment of a Commission to identify and investigate mana and ancestral connections, there will be 16 regional working groups - comprising central government, whänau, hapü and iwi and local government - who will need to reach a legally enforceable agreement on how the coastal marine environment will be managed in each area.

While the Government’s response resembles a sell-out to Maori, it is highly likely that the absence of exclusive customary rights titles for Maori will create widespread unrest.

So, as you pack your togs and chilli bins and head off to the beach this summer, remember two things. Firstly, that the government’s abolition of Crown ownership of the beaches and seabed and the consequential undermining of property rights – in their attempts to appease Maori - have now created widespread uncertainly for all New Zealanders. And secondly, that the real answer to the seabed and foreshore row was not only for the Government to have joined in the appeal to the Privy Council to overturn the activist rogue judgement by the Court of Appeal, but also to have allowed customary right claims by Maori to have been considered in civil courts – which are available to all New Zealanders – rather than being dealt with by the Maori Land Court.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On National’s Rampant Pandering To The Farming Vote

What on earth has happened to the political parties n the centre-right? Once upon a time in the US, the party of Lincoln was a respectable political party before it devolved into the cult of Trump. Here at home, the National Parry used to be able to manage and administer the economic orthodoxy in a reasonably competent fashion. Now it can barely do simple addition and subtraction. Something must have gotten into the water, and not simply out on the farm... More>>

 

Winston Peters Speech: The Gathering Storm Clouds: Ihumatao

Frequently around New Zealand you hear people say that politicians are all the same. It’s a convenient way to dismiss any careful investigation of the truth of that statement. New Zealand First since its inception has been committed to ‘one law ... More>>

ALSO:

National Agriculture Policy: Will Restore Farmer Confidence And Pride

A National Government will reduce regulatory burden and give farmers confidence for the future. Leader of the National Party Judith Collins and Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett announced National’s Agriculture policy in Gisborne today. “Agriculture ... More>>

ALSO:

Shaw: Wealth Tax Not A Bottom Line For Green Party But They Will Push For It

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party's bottom lines. More>>

ALSO:

Government: More Border Exceptions For Critical Roles

The Government has established class exceptions for border entry for a limited number of veterinarians, deep sea fishing crew, as well as agricultural and horticultural machinery operators. “Tight border restrictions remain the backbone of the Government’s ... More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Last Night’s Leaders Debate

Do political debates change voter intentions, and cause voters to switch sides? According to a 2019 Harvard Business School study conducted across 61 elections in nine countries involving 172,000 respondents, the answer would seem to be a resounding ... More>>

ALSO:

Dunne Speaks: The Election Campaign Just Grinds Slowly On And On

With just over three weeks until the General Election, the release of the first major pre-election opinion poll this week confirmed what was already being reported about this year’s campaign. Although the gap between Labour and National has narrowed ... More>>

Electoral Commission: Candidate And Party Lists Released

17 registered political parties and 677 candidates will be contesting the 2020 General Election Nominations have now closed and the Electoral Commission has released the electorate and party list candidates for 2020 online at vote.nz . Advance voting ... More>>

National: Plan To Restore NZ’s Prosperity

National’s Economic and Fiscal Plan carefully balances the need to invest in infrastructure and core public services while also reducing tax pressure on Kiwi families and businesses. National Leader Judith Collins and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith unveiled National’s ... More>>

ALSO:

NZ First: Party List

New Zealand First has a proven twenty-seven-year history of bringing balance and common sense to our government. Amid the continued setbacks of COVID-19 restrictions, New Zealand First has once again sustained its profile by selecting a strong team ... More>>


 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels