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Foreshore And Seabed Disarray

Foreshore And Seabed Disarray

It is clear that the Government is in total disarray over the foreshore and seabed legislation, and is now making key policy decisions on the hoof, ACT New Zealand's member of the Select Committee considering the Bill Ken Shirley said today.

"Deputy Prime Minister Dr Michael Cullen was today in the House unable to confirm his Government's commitment to its key ancestral connection provision," Mr Shirley said.

"The Foreshore and Seabed Bill has been a straw in the breeze since its introduction to Parliament, with Labour lurching in all directions according to the prevailing political climate.

"The Select Committee was unable to obtain a majority for any substantive change to the Bill. Therefore, the Committee's report back to Parliament fails to provide the scrutiny of a clause-by-clause analysis.

"On this basis, it would be extremely offensive for the Government to use its majority in Parliament and ram the legislation through with indecent haste, preventing that scrutiny.

"Parliamentary Standing Orders provide for the Committee stages of a Bill to be considered on a clause-by-clause basis, and it requires a majority vote to short-cut that requirement in favour of a Part by Part debate.

"The Bill comprises only six parts, but 116 clauses - plus schedules. With the Select Committee having failed to undertake the clause-by-clause scrutiny, it would be unthinkable for Labour to proceed without the Committee of the House having the opportunity to undertake the appropriate scrutiny. I have raised this matter with Dr Cullen, urging him to proceed cautiously.

"It is now likely that the Government will introduce dozens of detailed and complex changes by Supplementary Order Papers during the House Committee stages. These will only be able to be scrutinised thoroughly if Labour permits the House to proceed on a clause-by-clause basis.

"The ACT Party believes the Government should pause and think again with regard to the foreshore and seabed legislation. It would be unthinkable for the Government to abuse its majority and deny full Parliamentary scrutiny of this contentious legislation," Mr Shirley said.

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