Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Where does their power come from?

I know some of you are unclear where the power comes from for the Jackie Wilkinsons of this world to tell you what you can and can't do on your own land, so perhaps I can help clear it up.

First of all, it come from the local District Plan. Like arseholes, every council planner's got one. Here's the one that Auckland's planners use. That's an awful lot of rules. Here's the rules dealing with trees, and other stuff council planners think you should like.

I can sympathise with you hating the District Plan and trying to 'fix it.' But that takes time. The real power comes from the Resource Management Act (RMA)-- that piece of excement that former Environment Minister Nick Smith calls "far-sighted environmental legislation." The RMA required councils to write District Plans telling you what you can and can't do on your own land. In fact, it's quite explicit:
9. Restrictions on use of land—
(1)No person may use any land in a manner that contravenes a rule in a district plan or proposed district plan unless the activity is—
(a)Expressly allowed by a resource consent granted by the territorial authority responsible for the plan; or
(b)An existing use allowed by [section 10 or section 10A].
(Just for reference, the "existing uses" allowed by section 10 are now severely limited.) Let me repeat the important phrase from the RMA's Section Nine: "No person may use any land in a manner that contravenes a rule in a district plan..." In other words, you may only do on your land what you are allowed to by the council. (This is an example what RMA author Geoffrey Palmer called "permissive legislation.") By contrast, under the Local Government Act, councils may do whatever they wish unless the Act denies them. Kind of neat, huh?

"But they can't do that!" you might say. "They can't have carte blanche can they, while making me ask permission for absolutely anything, can they?" Well, yes they can. And they have. And they do. Yes, there is a word for this kind of political system (it starts with 'F'), and they do make you ask permission, and they frequently deny it. People have been denied permission to do things as simple as mowing their lawns because it would "disturb local wildlife"; to cut down trees, to plant trees, to build driveways, to put up fences, to take down fences -- the list goes on, let alone the number of people denied permission to build, to renovate, and to improve their own properties. There are people around the country who own gorgeous beachfront properties on which they're not allowed to build -- and there are people like Jackie Wilkinson and Sandra Coney who have made it their job to ensure they won't.

And don't forget the RMA has a draconian penalty regime attached if you do what those in charge of your property haven't previously allow you to, and people have ended up in front of local goon squads to be pilloried -- George Bernard Shaw, for example, in Onehunga recently -- and they've also ended up in jail -- Andrew Borrett, for example, who was jailed for cutting down his own trees to get a driveway to his house.

"When the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce," said author Ayn Rand, "then you may know that your society is doomed." Well, we're there. Under the RMA, you must ask permission from poeple like Jackie Wilkinson so you can "use" your own land -- and "use" under the RMA has a very particular meaning: Almost everything. I quote again from Section Nine, 'Restrictions on Use of Land,' "the word 'use' in relation to any land means:
9. 4(a)Any use, erection, reconstruction, placement, alteration, extension, removal, or demolition of any structure or part of any structure in, on, under, or over the land; or (b)Any excavation, drilling, tunnelling, or other disturbance of the land; or (c)Any destruction of, damage to, or disturbance of, the habitats of plants or animals in, on, or under the land; or (d)Any deposit of any substance in, on, or under the land; or [(da)Any entry on to, or passing across, the surface of water in any lake or river; or] (e)Any other use of land— and ``may use'' has a corresponding meaning.
Happy now? Can you see now that the cartoon in the post below isn't funny, it's tragic. The enemy to attack is the RMA. That's where it all starts. If you object to all this, it's the RMA that has to go. As someone once said, a Ministry for the Environment is a ministry for everything. A law that seeks to control the environment with the means adopted by the RMA means laws for everything. This is eco-fascism pure and simple. Offend the prevailing state religion, and expect to be done over for your crime.

And who brought it in? Who's responsible for this blot on our freedom and property rights? Have a closer look at the picture above. Print it out a PDF and pin it on your wall, and throw a dart at it every time you hear another story like that of Alice Presley's -- and then email each of the people on it and tell them the RMA has to go.

I've said it before: It's time to put a stake through the heart of the RMA. It's time to abolish it. Time to replace it with the simple common law protections of property rights and environment that once existed, and can be given power once again.

UPDATE: A correspondent reminded me that when Nick Smith updated the RMA's penalty regime some years back by bringing in instant fines, court-imposed fines of up to $200,000 and up to $10,000 a day, and up to two years in jail for not doing as you're told, Nick ("this is far-sighted environmental legislation") Smith declared that for the Jackie Wilkinsons of the world to properly get their way "all we need to do is 'ping' one or two people. Then everyone will get the message." What a creep. This is the character you National Party supporters expect to 'amend' the RMA if they ever get near power.

LINKS: Section 9: Restrictions on use of land - RMA
Section 5C: Auckland City District Plan
'No' to more council powers - Libertarianz, Scoop (August, 2001)
RMA villains - PDF
Submission on the McShane Report on the RMA - Peter Cresswell, Libertarianz (1998)
It's time to put a stake through the heart of the RMA - Peter Cresswell, Free Radical [4-page PDF, 2005]

Auckland RMA Common Law Cartoons, Property_Rights Urban_Design Environment New_Zealand Politics-NZ


  1. Prior to the mid 80's thousands held unproductive jobs in railways, post office and every other state owned or protected enterprise. They were expensive, but not as expensive as the army of bureaucrats since created, particually under the RMA. They are not just a dead weight, they activly destroy value creation.
    The RMA is a central planners dream.
    'Resource' means any material value, 'management' implies ownership rights.
    It moves ownership to bureaucrats. What more could any socialist want.
    The RMA is the fascist refuge of disillutioned marxist idealists. They find common ground there with those pragmatists, who claim to oppose socialism, but do not understand the importance of property rights to freedom.

  2. Well said that man. :-)

    Better to pay those thousands to be idle than to give them the idea that they're needed, and the power to destroy. Better still to have them productive instead of destructive, but that's some way down the track isn't it.

    Because in some ways that's the greater tragedy. So many of the 'dead weight' have good brains. But their heads are full of mush, and as you say they're destroying value rather than creating it. All those minds going to waste, when they coudl instead be creating value.

    I agree with you too on the political combination that finds common cause in eco-fascism. Some see no other way, and can be educated, but too many either just don't see that good people are being buried by this muck, or --worse -- do see it and actively enjoy it.


We welcome thoughtful disagreement.
Thanks to a few abusers however, we (ir)regularly moderate comments.
We *will* delete comments with insulting or abusive language, unless they're entertaining. We will also delete totally inane comments. Try to make some sense. We are much more likely to allow critical comments if you have the honesty and courage to use your real name.