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Shame about property rights

  • February 20th, 2009

Business New Zealand has endorsed an important paper detailing successive New Zealand governments’ shameful (and wealth destroying) disdain for property rights.

This is no " ideological burp". Authors Lew Evans and Neil Quigley are heavyweights, often engaged by government. The paper casts in a poor light the work of the Select Committee that rejected Gordon Copeland’s bill to include protection of property rights in the NZ Bill of Rights.

It supports Maori claims to have been wronged over the seabed and foreshore, and other resources. The logic would support the Waitangi Tribunal report upholding claims to Taranaki oil and gas. That recommendation was summarily dismissed by Prime Minister Clark as "not in the national interest" and never publicly discussed again.

Nevertheless the paper curiously makes little of the Treaty’s property rights assurance in Article 2. In 2001 I argued to a NZ Law Conference that Article 2 would become our constitutional guarantee of property rights, when Maori and Pakeha woke up to the fact that we had the same interests in upholding it.

Perhaps Quigley and Evans slide past Article 2 because it  also contains the Crown right of pre-emption of Maori land, of which the authors gravely disapprove.


  • ben
  • February 26th, 2009
  • 7:16 am

It sure doesn’t help to have, of all people, Gordon Copeland promoting a bill like this. That gives defending property rights the appearance of being part of some radical right wing Christian agenda. Would have been good to see somebody more senior in Parliament taking the lead. Phil Goff perhaps.

  • James
  • March 1st, 2009
  • 3:02 am

Without property rights no other rights are possible…..all genuine rights life,liberty’property,pursuit of happiness are based on ownership of what is fundermentally yours…

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