Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Nationalisation on the West Coast

Imagine if eighty-percent of your property were to be taken away overnight to make a park. That's what West Coast farmers are facing with a "land grab" by the Clark Government in which large swathes of their land is to be taken out of their control and placed under the control of government by virtue of being declared "Significant Natural Areas" (SNA's).

This will affect up to one in three West Coast farms, in an area in which, says this report, "87% of land on the West Coast [is] already protected one way or another." One farmer, who faces having eighty percent of his farm taken (that's part of it pictured at right), says,
the property has been in his family for 100 years and the government cannot tell him what to do with it. "It's absolutely stupid, it's bureaucrats gone mad." Barrett's farm is sphagnum moss country, but like lot of farmers on the West Coast he may switch to dairying. His fear is that if the SNA becomes a reality, he will not be able to.

"Lot of decisions made and no-one thinks of the cost on humans. Terrible stressful for people to have to go through this sort of thing."
Of course he's right that this is absolutely stupid, but rather than "bureaucrats gone mad" this is just more of the madness that happens when any respect for property rights has disappeared, and property owners have given up the fight for property rights.

Both Federated Farmers and the Greymouth mayor oppose the process -- the mayor accurately calling it a "Mugabe-style land grab to try and take people's private land off them" -- but both still accept the principle that government may nationalise land whenever it can rationalise the process:
  • "I'll be going to the council next month," says the mayor , "and I'll be asking them to stop the process until the Minister David Benson-Pope comes up with legitimate reasons why we should progress with this SNA identification" -- in other words if the rationalisation is sufficient, we'll roll over on this.
  • Meanwhile, while making the usual noises, Federated Farmers have already rolled over; they're actually "taking part in the process" of SNA identification -- but only, they say, "to ensure farmers were not further disadvantaged."
Oh please. Neither of them are prepared to just say "No!" You can just hear the forelocks being tugged, can't you.

When, oh when, will this process of land nationalisation and extinction of property rights begun under the Resource Management Act be reversed? The answer, dear reader, is only when you do stand up and cry "Enough!" Have you had enough yet? Or do you need even more Mugabe-style land grab before you get the point that property rights are important, and the RMA is destructive of them.

It's high time that a stake was driven through the heart of the RMA. If not now, when?

LINKS: Access fears for private land - Stuff
Coasters fight land grab - TVNZ (article, with link to video news report)
It's time to drive a stake through the heart of the RMA - Peter Cresswell, Free Radical [4-page PDF]

Politics-NZ, Property Rights, RMA

1 comment:

  1. They steal from Telecom, they steal from taxpayers, now they steal from farmers.

    Who's next?


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