Winston Peters hits out at 'shonky' foreshore bill

The New Zealand First leader has slammed the National Party's proposed foreshore and seabed law, describing it as "disgraceful."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has urged MPs to vote against the controversial Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill, which faces mounting opposition.

The bill, which repeals the previous government’s Foreshore and Seabed Act, takes the foreshore and seabed away from the Crown and allows private title to be established.

The Act Party opposes the bill and suspended Maori Party MP Hone Harawira has also been a vocal critic of it.

Mr Peters, who is looking to return to Parliament at this year's election, rejected as “cosmetic” the late change to the legislation that requires customary title to an area to be ratified by Parliament.

“It is outrageous to ram this disgraceful bill through the process with about two hours debate after the select committee ignored hundreds of submissions from concerned New Zealanders.

“This timing exploits a crisis in the Maori Party and it shows just how shonky the whole deal is. It abandons the rights of all New Zealanders in favour of behind the scenes deals with a few.

Crown ownership under the existing law means all New Zealanders own the foreshore and seabed, he said.

“This ownership is going to be relinquished and be made available for customary title, which will allow the rights of private title.

“National fought the 2005 and 2008 elections on the grounds that the present law favoured iwi. Now it has done the most astounding political backflip and passed over the birthright of all New Zealanders.

“It's simply a cynical device to keep political power but we are sure most people will see through this by election time,” said Mr Peters. 

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