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Goff & Parker: National Window Dressing On Seabed And Foreshore

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

National's preferred option on the foreshore and seabed shows that the whole process has been window dressing, Labour Leader Phil Goff said today.

"Labour has consistently said any outcome needs to maintain public access to beaches and protect the customary title or rights of iwi to the seabed and foreshore. This is already the situation and nothing finally announced by National today will change this.

"John Key gave the game away earlier this week when he admitted that he did not 'think people will notice a lot of change' between what is in place now and the new Act National is proposing.

"The Maori Party has been knocked back yet again by National. After fighting to repeal the Act, and promising supporters a big change John Key has come out and confirmed that after the Foreshore and Seabed Act is repealed, it will be replaced by the same bill - with just a different name and dressed up a bit.

"Labour believes a consensus which involves the recognition of Maori interests in the foreshore and seabed and guaranteed protection of public access rights can be achieved without creating further division and lengthy uncertainty." Phil Goff said today.

"Labour will constructively and responsibly engage with the Government over the review of the legislation. The previous position taken by the National Party on the Foreshore and Seabed Act - which senior MPs opposed as race-based, preying upon fears and prejudices and asserting the public would be denied access to the beaches - created a very difficult climate."

Shadow Attorney-General David Parker said the amendments to the Act appear to be symbolic.

"While Labour is open to taking a look at the concept of public ownership of the Seabed and Foreshore it sees little difference between a 'no ownership' scenario and the current arrangement," David Parker said.

"The threshold test for customary rights or title has delivered fair outcomes for Ngati Porou. Any change to threshold test needs careful consideration.

"The simple repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act was never going to be appropriate, as people need certainty.

"We also want to ensure that any changes preserve the outcomes Ngati Porou secured in negotiation with the Labour-led government," Mr Parker said.

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