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Govt claims of "guaranteed" access fraudulent

16 September 2004

Government claims of "guaranteed" access over foreshore fraudulent

Government claims that its foreshore legislation "guarantees" public access over the foreshore and seabed are fraudulent, Public Access New Zealand today told the select committee considering the Foreshore and Seabed Bill in Christchurch today.

Spokesman Bruce Mason says that the Foreshore and Seabed Bill will create unrestrained powers of closure to the public, or classes of people, with penalties of up to $5000 for those who ignore the decrees of either the Ministers of Conservation or Maori Affairs.

"The door will be open to racial and other forms of discrimination, all at the political whim.

PANZ believes that this Bill is a monumental fraud, depriving New Zealanders of their birthright to use and enjoy beaches and coastal waters.

"Government propaganda claiming access will be guaranteed, in the form of ministerial statements and advertisements, has been greatly assisted by strident Maori protests about their alleged rights. The latter has given false comfort to many New Zealanders that the Government was looking after their interests", Mr. Mason said.

"The beach" is very much part of the national psyche. There is a long history of freedom of public use and enjoyment which is so engrained into everyday life that any threats to those freedoms are perceived to be attacks upon personal liberties. Therefore the depth of public alarm arising from Government's handling of this issue is hardly surprising.

PANZ predicts that if the Government and supporting parties get this issue wrong, there will be an unprecedented backlash. We also believe that the social division that will result from racial preference and consequent discrimination against the vast majority of New Zealanders would be immense and irreparable.

It behooves government to ensure that such a legacy is never created.

PANZ has called on Parliamentarians to reject the Bill. "The only pressing need for law change is to amend the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act to prevent the granting of freehold title", Mr Mason concluded.


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