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Landowners Beware

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley today predicted that the Labour Government would use the report of the Land Access Ministerial Working Group to further its obfuscation of the foreshore and seabed issue, while appropriating private property rights by stealth.

"Labour Ministers have, over the past two weeks, deliberately confused foreshore (inter tidal zone) and seabed ownership with access to the coast, lakes and rivers," Mr Shirley said.

"The Queen's Chain is an urban myth which can apparently be traced back to a decree from Queen Victoria to Governor Hobson, urging that public access to the coastline and waterways be established through initial survey as land titles were created. In many instances this did occur, but not on a universal basis.

"The Resource Management Act's subdivision provisions set aside a 20-metre wide esplanade reserve above mean high water spring tide, and marginal access strips along the banks of significant waterways.

"These reserves have been greatly expanded throughout the 1990's. Prime Minister Helen Clark's assertion that the Queen's Chain has been eroded over recent years is absolutely wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"Where previous `grace and favour' access has been curtailed, it is usually due to Government regulations like Occupational Safety and Health, which has foolishly made landowners liable for accidents on their land.

"The Land Access Groups' report contains some alarming statements in its Executive Summary. On the one hand it calls for mechanisms to promote and enhance the Queen's Chain, then concludes that a more assured approach to access is needed.

"It also notes that a property rights ethos predominates in New Zealand, and that it cannot realistically be expected that this will change quickly to accommodate mounting access pressures. We should be asking Government what mechanisms are under consideration, and if it intends a massive appropriation of private property.

"No property owner should have their property taken by the Government supposedly for public good purposes without full and generous compensation.

"A universal Queen's Chain would cost billions of dollars. I fear this Government, with its lack of respect for property rights, will find a means of appropriating that property by stealth" Mr Shirley said.




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