Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Where is ACT on the Foreshore and Seabed replacement legislation?

Further to yesterday's post. I was bemused over David Garrett's question - one so antithetical to what ACT previously stood for.

5. DAVID GARRETT to the Attorney-General: Will he commit to prohibiting Māori owners from charging other New Zealanders for access to beaches; if not, will he at least limit the amount they can charge to $5, the fee currently charged by the Māori owners of Takou Bay in Northland?

There is no doubt in my mind that this question was primarily intended to scaremonger. It is exactly the question Winston Peters would have put.

Let's not forget that last time the Foreshore and Seabed issue was a hot potato ACT voted against Labour, putting the view that Maori had every right to test their customary ownership through the High Court.

Richard Prebble, May 2004;

I rise on behalf of the ACT party to oppose the foreshore and seabed legislation.

ACT is a party that believes in private property rights, the rule of law, the citizens’ right to go to court for justice, and one law for all...

The bill discriminates against Maori, by removing the right that the Court of Appeal has found, that Maori have to seek a declaration from the courts that the seabed and foreshore is Maori land....

Let me make it clear that in upholding the rights of all citizens to go to court I am not lending support to claims that Maori under the Treaty own all the foreshore and seabed around New Zealand. As a lawyer it is very clear that in law, whether it be legislation or British common law or Maori customary law, it is very clear that Maori do not own the vast majority of the foreshore or seabed of New Zealand....

Both Maori and British common law require continuous occupation and control for common law ownership. If Maori controlled and occupied Takapuna beach I am sure we would have noticed.

But it does not follow that it is not possible there are some parts of the foreshore and the seabed that is still owned by Maori, and indeed I think it is likely that Maori do own some parts of the foreshore and seabed.....

Any claim by anyone to the foreshore and seabed should be brought in a proper court, and the appropriate court is the High Court...

I realise that the position the ACT party takes is not a populist one. In this country we have no written constitution. Our Bill of Rights is a totally inadequate piece of legislation that contains no property protections.

It is this parliament, and we 120 MPs, who are the guardians of citizens’ rights. A society that doesn't uphold the right of citizens to own property and the right of all citizens to go to court cannot be described as being free...

Now it would appear that David Garrett is going down the opposite track and will attempt to stir up fear and resentment amongst Pakeha over the implications of the legislation due to pass late this year whereby Maori will once more have the right to test their title.

But in my efforts to establish what the party's view is I came across this from ACT's Maori Affairs spokesman Peter Tashkoff.

“As ACT stated in our minority report on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill in 2004, it was never fair for Maori to have their right to their day in court legislated away. Recognition of that, now from all sides, is long overdue," Mr Tashkoff said.

“New Zealand has a long and established history of ownership issues being resolved by the courts, and the matter should now be left with them. There is no need for any further political involvement beyond the repeal of this pernicious legislation.

So what is ACT's position? Will they be doing some sort of double act, supporting the National government while also trying to frighten the horses? Or will they vote against the legislation? Against the right for Maori to test their property rights in the relevant court?


Anonymous said...

From what I can tell Act is in favour of the right to test customary title in Court, but this Bill goes further. It allows customary title to be granted by negotiation with the Government.

A fine line to tread, but an important one.

KG said...

Exactly, Anonymous. The second allows sleazy backroom deals, well away from public view.
Which is apparently the way National prefers to do deals.