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Treaty specialist warns foreshore issue may not be resolved

Treaty specialist warns foreshore issue may never be resolved

With Labour's sudden withdrawal of its support for the Government’s Marine and Coastal Area Bill, Treaty specialist and History Professor at AUT University, Dr. Paul Moon, suggests that there is a good chance that the issue may now never be resolved.

“Each major party in Parliament now has the opportunity to use the foreshore and seabed issue to its advantage, and to promise changes in the law to appeal to its voters,” says Dr. Moon. “Labour’s promise to repeal National’s Marine and Coastal Area legislation is the first clear warning sign that the foreshore and seabed debate will be dredged up again in the future”.

Dr. Moon is concerned with the prospect of further instability over who has what rights to the foreshore and seabed. “The worst-case scenario is that every election year, promises will be made by either of the main political parties to modify the law in order to appeal to their supporters. This would set a pattern of ongoing instability, and would certainly cause some groups to become increasingly resentful at the management of the foreshore and seabed.”

Dr Moon’s main criticism is directed at Labour: “Labour took the opportunity three months ago to support the Government’s Marine and Coastal Area Bill. This sent a strong message regarding the resolve of Parliament to find a lasting solution for the issue. Labour’s flip-flop this week has had the effect of removing that sense of political solidarity behind the law change, and has signalled that future changes to the law on the foreshore and seabed are not only possible but to be expected”.


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