In recent weeks he’s been talking up the problems created by the National Party’s Resource Management Act (RMA), and talking down the ability of people to do business on their own property because of it.
That’s not disappointing, by the way. That much at least is excellent.
“Little Hitlers”he called the bossy-booted small-minded vermin who get to act out their delusions of power under its wing. And so they are. “The biggest single obstacle to economic growth in New Zealand” he called the RMA. And so it is.
He could have, but didn’t, point out it represents “the greatest theft of property rights since the war”—but I’m sure he knows that.
So like ACT leaders of the past, he can talk a good game about the various iniquities of the ACT. Yet (just like ACT leaders of the past) when he comes to actually advocating anything is done to remove this piece of postmodern fascism, he turns into blancmange.
Instead of advocating removal, abolition—a stake through its heart—instead of any of these things it’s crying out for he talks about “reform.” Just like every other ACT leader has in the past.
What a pathetic, weak-kneed, misinformed disappointment.
When I challenged Don about this backsliding the reason he gave for this softcock soft soap was:
if Parliament were simply to "remove" the RMA I think you'd be left with the Town and Country Planning Act, which hardly seems to me to be an improvement. If the RMA were to be amended so that it was made abundantly clear that property owners should be free to do on their own property whatever they please, provided it does not jeopardise the property rights of others, that would be a major step forward.This is very disappointing. Not to mention misguided and misinformed.
It would be like saying a rejection of Vladmir Putin would require the reincarnation of Leonid Brezhnev. Or (to put it in central banking terms) the overturning of the Central Bankers' "Great Moderation" would require the reintroduction of Arthur Burns' profligate 1970s inflation. Or to put it in terms teenagers might understand, like saying a rejection of Justin Bieber implies we must embrace Britney Spears.
This is, of course, nonsense. Nonsense on stilts. It’s nothing more than a bureaucrat's false alternative.
If that's all the advice Don is getting about replacements for the RMA, then I suggest he very quickly change his advisers.
It’s true that the virus of town planning came to NZ in the twenties, but it didn’t really begin attacking the economy’s internal organs until recently.
Introduced by the National Party, the RMA has now been with us for just eighteen years. The Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA)*, which was also introduced by National (are you seeing a pattern here?) had been with us for around two decades before that.
These are hardly historically significant time periods over which to measure the failure of these two acts to “balance” property rights and the environment.
Compare that with the signal success of Common Law over seven-hundred years to protect both. That Don and his advisers are apparently so blithely unaware of this history is worse than disappointing. For a party, and a leader, who purport to stand for strong property rights this is simply unforgivable.
The point anyway is not just to advocate AGAINST the RMA (and then to accept what you're given by the bureaucrats and your advisers as a replacement) but to advocate FOR property rights, and with that advocacy to promote the system with around 700 years of success in protecting both property rights and the environment, i.e., common law.
As ACT Party candidate Cactus Kate once pointed out, common law represents and protects the “Freedom to do what you want on your property as long as it doesn't impinge on others' right of peaceful enjoyment of their property.” So why wouldn't ACT Party leaders promote that? Your guess is as good as mine. They don't, but they should.
The return to common law would eject both the RMA and TCPA regimes, along with all the bureaucrats, consultants and other parasites and hangers-on that go with them, and represent a long overdue return to property rights and to sanity.
There are undoubtedly many ways to effect the change, but I'd suggest the simplest would be this:
- have enacted a codification of basic common law principles, such as water rights, profits a prendre, rights to light, air and so on (which protect many long-standing and long-recognised property rights destroyed by the RMA) and the Coming to the Nuisance Doctrine (which on its own represents a powerful antidote to the disease of the planners);
- place property rights in the Bill of Rights;
- set up Small Consents Tribunals to begin the process by which the change can be done gradually;
- while all this is taking place, have property titles amended with easements and covenants and so on to reflect the basic present District Plan provisions of height, density, and height-to-boundary (i.e., the very things in place when many property owners bought their present property, and on whose protection many of them rely) and make clear that property owners are now quite able to negotiate among themselves for mutual relaxation, restriction or furtherance of these covenants.
Set that up and then go from there.
And if anyone tells you it's "not practical," then point them to the nearly 700 years in which common law was successfully practiced.
We owe it to ourselves and our grandchildren to return to it.
_ _ _ __ _* (And despite the protestations of planning parasites, these two acts in the way they’ve been applied are really just kissing cousins, since the RMA has essentially become the TCPA with more restrictions,less certainty, and a great deal more expense—and many, many more delays. Think of it as the postmodern TCPA—the TCPA plus kaitiakitanga.)