Act campaign against foreshore bill costing National votes, MP warns

By Derek Cheng

Allan Peachey. Photo / Chris Skelton
Allan Peachey. Photo / Chris Skelton

National MP Allan Peachey is warning the Government that the foreshore and seabed saga is polarising the party's support, and many core voters feel betrayed and will never vote for National again.

A draft report, obtained by the Herald and written by the Tamaki MP, warns that the Act Party's campaign against the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill is "gaining traction".

Act MP John Boscawen has spent thousands of dollars of his own money printing 8000 letters and flyers and dropping them in letterboxes in the electorate, where he lives. He is printing another 7000. Mr Peachey's report was prepared for presentation to the Tamaki executive next week.

"Many of the people in touch with me are threatening to resign from the party and to never vote for National again. We kid ourselves if we don't think we have a major issue on our hands among some of our core and loyal supporters," the report says.

The Government is proposing the bill as a replacement for the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act.

It would permit customary title to the foreshore and seabed to those who can prove exclusive use and occupation from 1840 until now without substantial interruption, and that the group held the area in accordance with tikanga (customs).

"The Act Party is running a campaign based on misinformation and half-truths in this electorate, which is gaining some traction," the report says.

Mr Peachey said yesterday that many fears were allayed once he had a chance to explain the bill. But he also said some supporters were concerned that the bill made a mockery of the principle of one law for all. He said he had not passed on his concerns to Prime Minister John Key or Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.

Mr Boscawen denied that he was scaremongering or that his letter was based on misinformation. His letter claims it "seems only a matter of time" before nationalised resources - oil, gold, silver, uranium - are denationalised, which could see some of the benefits of those resources in the foreshore and seabed go into private iwi hands rather than to Government coffers.

He based this on a perceived push by Maori groups to change the policy around nationalised resources. The Government has not shown any indication of doing that.

PEACHEY'S WARNING TO HIS EXECUTIVE

"The Act Party is running a campaign based on misinformation and half-truths in this electorate [Tamaki], which is gaining some traction.

I am receiving a lot of communications from constituents ... who are really quite angry at what they are describing as a betrayal by the National Government.

"Many of the people in touch with me are threatening to resign from the party and to never vote for National again. We kid ourselves if we don't think we have a major issue on our hands among some of our core and loyal supporters."

- NZ Herald

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