Trans Tasman takes its usual reasoned and throughtful approach to the Foreshore and Seabed issue and concludes:
Some authorities dismissed the foreshore and seabed decision as just another example of Key’s deal-making skill.What they miss is Key’s determination to honour the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi, and harmonise race relations to a degree unmatched anywhere in the world. It’s a goal liberals find hard to accept coming from a conservative party, but is not so astonishing for those who believe capitalism, rather than welfarism, is the most effective instrument through which the shackles of poverty can be broken.
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The debacle over the foreshore and seabed started over a very simple issue – Maori wanted the right to go to court.
They’ve got that now with the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act.
Private property rights will still apply to private property, public access is still preserved on public land.
That all sounds fair and reasonable to me.
The Foreshore and Seabed Act was the result of panic.
The Court of Appeal didn’t say Iwi with continuous customary use could convert that to freehold title. It just said they had the right to test that in court.
But once that got into the media that was translated into Maori having freehold title and the ability to exclude people from the beaches. There was a public outcry and the government panicked.
That was politically costly for the Labour Party because the Act which resulted led to the birth of the Maori Party.
But Labour wasn’t the only party at fault. Former National Party leader Don Brash told Q&A the party got it wrong.
Now John Key has said the legislation will almost certainly be repealed.
There is no indication yet on what will replace it but when panic led to the mistake in the first place it would be helpful if everybody could debate the issue calmly and rationally.
Mr Key said the legislation had been complex, but a replacement that sat well with all New Zealanders was possible.
Not only possible but necessary.
Property rights must be respected and public access to the beaches must be retained. Those are not mutually exclusive.
The foreshore and seabed issue ought to have been a simple one of property rights but it was complicated by racism , politics and ignorance over customary title.
The ministry review panel has recommended that the Act which took the right to go to court from Maori be overturned.
Racism and politics will try to complicate what happens next. But Sir Douglas Graham has done his best to remove some of the ignorance with his lay person’s guide to customary title in today’s Herald.
Michael Cullen has done a mea culpa and admitted Labour got the Foreshore and Seabed Act wrong.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris FInlayson has responded graciously with an acknowledgement on the importance of a non-partisan approach:
“I agree completely with Dr Cullen’s sentiment that the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act needs to be approached in a non-partisan way, and that the issue should not be used as a political football.
“I welcome his assurance that the Labour Party will engage constructively with the review. Our goal is to reach the best possible outcome for Maori and all the people of New Zealand, and it is important that the voices of all parties in Parliament are heard.”
I am pleased he’s done that because it’s the right thing to do and because National didn’t get its stance on the issue right either.
The issue is one of property rights and the case should have been heard in court. If the result found in the Maori’s favour it wouldn’t have meant anyone was barred from beaches, but it would have meant the legal owners would have been owed compensation for any compromise of or interference with their property rights.
This is an issue farmers ought to have a lot of sympathy for because similar principles are involved in access to and through farmland.