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Protecting Property Rights Benefits All

Protecting Property Rights Benefits All

12 October 2006

Sanctity of property rights is fundamental to a just and civil society, said Don Nicolson, vice president of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

Mr Nicolson made the comments to a Parliamentary select committee considering the New Zealand Bill of Rights (Private Property Rights) Amendment Bill, sponsored by United Future’s Gordon Copeland.

Federated Farmers strongly supports the bill, which seeks to change the Bill of Rights 1990. Protection of property rights was for some reason omitted from the original Bill of Rights.

The proposed lawchange seeks to safeguard private property rights. “By enshrining the security that property rights confer, society is protecting many of the other values it holds dear,” Mr Nicolson said.

"Private property rights are important guarantees of other freedoms that the Bill of Rights seeks to protect. The right to own property is rightly regarded as an indispensable basis for economic prosperity and social well-being. Without property, individuals become dependant on government and vulnerable to state coercion.

"As well as affirming, protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Bill of Rights affirms New Zealand's commitment to the International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights. The covenant guarantees equal and effective protection against discrimination on the basis of property.

“If we are to have a Bill of Rights affirming the covenant, it should affirm all the rights in the covenant, not just ones the government of the day chooses.

"Property rights have been protected constitutionally for centuries. It is a feature of the Magna Carta and the Treaty of Waitangi. Yet property rights are being continually eroded by legislation such as the Resource Management Act and the myriad of local planning restrictions the RMA has brought about.

"The institution of property rights is too important to be allowed to languish. Protecting property in the Bill of Rights would signal to government, the courts and local authorities that rights in property are hugely important to society,” Mr Nicolson said. “That’s why we strongly support Gordon Copeland’s bill.”


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