Something ugly crawled out from under a rock this week. In response to the Government’s proposals to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act, some strange bedfellows have established the Coastal Coalition. Its stated mission is:
…that the foreshore & seabed is the common heritage of all New Zealanders and should remain in Crown ownership.
The curious mix in this coalition includes John Ansell, the designer of Don Brash’s notoriously racist “Iwi-Kiwi” National Party 2005 campaign billboards. Ansell is recycling that design concept for the Coastal Coalition, with billboards like the one above. Also involved is former ACT Party Deputy Leader, Muriel Newman, who is the Administrator for the Coastal Coalition. No surprises in that, either.
Green Co-Leader Metiria Turei was quick to condemn the Coastal Coalition campaign:
“John Ansell’s bill boards are designed to scare instead of educate,” Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said.
John Ansell was behind the iwi/Kiwi National Party billboards that stirred racial tensions in the 2005 election.
“This attempt to re-run the divisive and dishonest campaign from 2005 is sad. New Zealanders have moved on.
“Scaremongering like this is disgraceful. It inflames and creates division between communities as well as utterly distorting the truth.
“The issues surrounding the foreshore and seabed are about the treatment of Maori equitably under the law. The right to access the courts and the right to have customary title recognised and respected.
What is surprising, though, is that the likes of Ansell and Newman, both from the hard right and with a history of racism, appear to have allies from the other end of the political spectrum. The Coastal Coalition’s spokesperson is Hugh Barr, Secretary for Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations, whom Ansell himself describes as “centre left”. Ansell also claims media commentator Chris Trotter, who has published and blogged arguments similar to those of the Coastal Coalition agenda, and Jim Anderton as supporters of their cause.
The problem for those who perceive themselves to be on the left joining this racially divisive and dishonest campaign is that there are already around 12,500 private titles over the foreshore and seabed. If they believe the foreshore and seabed should all be in public ownership, they should be advocating nationalising those 12,500 private titles. It is not a position I agree with, but it would at least be a consistent one – nationalise the lot, not just the bits Maori may have claim to.
Those purportedly on the “left” supporting the Coastal Coalition risk exposing themselves as… [insert your preferred option from this blog post title].