Act now: Foreshore and Seabed Repeal Bill
Update: 26 July 2007 - as you may have heard, the Foreshore and Seabed Act (Repeal) Bill did not come up in parliament last night; it is, however, now at the top of the list of Members Bills due for first reading, so it is likely to be debated on Wednesday, 15 August.
This means that if you have not already done so, you have more time to contact your MP (especially if they are in Labour or National) and government Ministers to demand that they support the Bill at its first reading so it can be sent to a Select Committee for consideration. Please refer to the alert below for more information, and what you can do about this.
21 July 2007
The Foreshore and Seabed Act (Repeal) Bill  is likely to come up for its first reading in parliament on Wednesday, 25 July. Both Labour and National have indicated they will not support the Bill which means that it will not be referred to a Select Committee for consideration.
This action alert has three sections:
Labour and National's hypocritical double standard
Labour and National's refusal to support the Foreshore and Seabed Act (Repeal) Bill at its first reading is a stark contrast with those two parties support for the first reading of two Bills which are an attack on the Treaty of Waitangi, and on Maori and their rights: the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill , which would in practice remove all references to the Treaty in legislation and take away the jurisdiction of the Waitangi Tribunal; and the Treaty of Waitangi (Removal of Conflict of Interest) Amendment Bill , which is designed to stop serving Maori Land Court and High Court judges sitting on the Waitangi Tribunal - a Bill which is essentially discriminatory as it does not say anything about other situations where judges sit in other courts or decision making bodies.
Although both Labour and National have indicated they are unlikely to support these two Bills at the second reading stage, they supported them going to Select Committee to "allow debate"  and so that "these important issues can be properly canvassed" .
What an outrageous double standard - why is it that discussion about proposed legislation which assaults and insults the Treaty and Maori is supported, but there will not be the opportunity for any discussion about a Bill which is intended to repeal legislation which was entirely unjust and unnecessary? Legislation, furthermore, that was found to breach the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Foreshore and Seabed Act
In April 2005, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (which monitors government compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) released its decision on the Foreshore and Seabed Act . As well as finding the legislation contained discriminatory aspects, there were two other comments made by the Committee which have particular relevance to this alert.
The Committee expressed concern about the political atmosphere that developed following the Court of Appeal's decision on the foreshore and seabed, and stated its hope that: "all actors in New Zealand will refrain from exploiting racial tensions for their own political advantage." Clearly advice not followed by Labour or National given their support for Select Committee consideration of the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion and Treaty of Waitangi (Removal of Conflict of Interest) Amendment Bills.
The Committee also requested the government talk with Maori in order to seek ways of mitigating the discriminatory effects of the legislation "including through legislative amendment, where necessary". Supporting the consideration of the Foreshore and Seabed Act (Repeal) Bill by a Select Committee would be entirely consistent with this recommendation.
This is an interesting time for the government to be refusing to support the Repeal Bill - they will be appearing before the Committee in Geneva at the end of this month to explain what they have done about the Committee's recommendations on the foreshore and seabed legislation, and to answer questions about other areas where they have failed to meet their obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (more information about that will be circulated next week).
And a final comment on the Repeal Bill - support for consideration of the Bill and criticism of National's position on it has come from some unlikely sources, for example, the Editorial in yesterday's Dominion Post: "At the very least, National could back Mrs Turia's bill to the select committee stage, arguing - rightly - that the process that saw a High Court decision to allow Maori to legally test their claims to ownership blocked by legislation promoted by a rattled prime minister, was flawed." 
What you can do about this
Please as a matter of urgency contact your MP (especially if they are in Labour or National) before Wednesday and demand that they support the Foreshore and Seabed Act (Repeal) Bill at its first reading - point out the hypocritical double standard in their party's support for Select Committee consideration of the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill and the Treaty of Waitangi (Removal of Conflict of Interest) Amendment Bill, and their lack of support for the Repeal Bill. You can contact your MP's parliamentary office by phoning the switchboard at parliament (04) 471 9999 and asking to be put through to them. Phone and fax details for all MPs are available online here. Email addresses for MPs are in the format of email@example.com and addresses for government Ministers are in the format of firstinitial(no full stop)firstname.lastname@example.org, for example, email@example.com
If you would like to convey your views about this to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, their details are: Helen Clark email, tel (04) 471 9998 or fax 473 3579; Michael Cullen email tel (04) 470 6551 or fax 495 8442.
It is very helpful for our work if you can send a copy of any fax or message you send, and of any replies you receive, to: Peace Movement Aotearoa, PO Box 9314, Wellington 6141; fax (04) 382 8173; or bcc to email, thank you.
1. The Foreshore and Seabed Act (Repeal) Bill is a Members Bill which was introduced to parliament by Tariana Turia, on behalf of the Maori Party, on 12 October 2006. The Bill aims to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 and restore, as part of that process, provisions in the Foreshore and Seabed Endowment Revesting Act 1991. The text of the Bill is available here.
2. The Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill is a Members Bill, which was introduced by NZ First MP Doug Woolerton on 29 June 2006, had its first reading on 27 July 2006, and is currently being considered by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee. The Bill (similar to a NZ First Bill voted out in 2005) was part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the Labour Party and NZ First which specified that a Bill 'to remove references to the principles of the Treaty from legislation' would be sent for consideration by a Select Committee. The text of the Bill is available here and an action alert on it is available here.
3. The Treaty of Waitangi (Removal of Conflict of Interest) Amendment Bill is a Members Bill which was introduced by NZ First MP Pita Paraone on 12 October 2006, and had its first reading on 27 June 2007. It was referred to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee and submissions on it are due by 10 August 2007. The text of the Bill is available here.
4. See, for example, Steve Maharey (Labour) in the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill first reading debate.
5. See, for example, Christopher Finlayson (National) in the Treaty of Waitangi (Removal of Conflict of Interest) Amendment Bill first reading debate.
6. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Sixty-sixth session, 17 February to 11 March 2005, Decision 1 (66): New Zealand CERD/C/DEC/NZL/1. The decision is available here.
7. 'Seabed forces Key to stumble', Dominion Post, 20 July 2007, is available here.