20 Oct 2010

Maori Party unlikely to withdraw foreshore support - Turia

3:14 pm on 20 October 2010

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the party is unlikely to pull its support for legislation replacing the Foreshore and Seabed Act over an amendment to guarantee public access is free of charge.

MP Hone Harawira says his party should withdraw its support if the Government goes ahead with the amendment, put forward by the ACT Party.

But Mrs Turia says she doubts it will come to that because the access amendment is not significant, though she says it is unnecessary because the bill already guarantees access free of charge to the foreshore and seabed.

Mrs Turia says the Maori Party will listen to its supporters before deciding whether to vote for the Marine and Coastal Areas Bill at its final reading.

In September the Maori Party said the bill, while not perfect, would give Maori a real say in the management of coastal areas.

But it has been upset by a push from the ACT Party to amend the bill to spell out clearly that public access to the foreshore and seabed is free.

Co-leader Pita Sharples has expressed concern about the proposed amendment even though the party supports free public access.

Prime Minister John Key hopes the Maori Party will continue to support the bill.

If it does not, he says, the existing law will remain in place.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says National's politicking over the issue is part of the problem. "They've tried to be all things to all people - one thing to ACT and another thing to the Maori Party - and its all falling apart on them."

Submissions on the bill close next month and the Maori Affairs select committee is expected to report back to Parliament by the end of February.