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Dick Hubbard’s Meddling; Rodney on Property Rights

THE BEST OF NOT PC

Dick Hubbard’s Meddling; Rodney on Property Rights


Two 'Not-PC' opinion-pieces by Peter Cresswell from his Blog Not PC
www.pc.blogspot.com

This week, Mediocrity and Meddling in Auckland, and ACTing against property rights

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1. Mediocrity and Meddling in Auckland

Authoritianism and mediocrity go hand in hand. So how to judge Dick Hubbard's announcement of a 'scorecard to halt ugly buildings' and an 'urban design taskforce' to vet new buildings except as a whole-hearted embracing of both. Herald story here.

Giving council's predominantly pubescent planners and the designers of the beyond-bland Aotea Centre carte blanche to decide what they think is attractive and to reject the rest is like giving Dick Hubbard aesthetic control over Peter Jackson's films, or allowing Bruce Hucker to vet Karen Walker's spring collection. It's a recipe for blandness and mediocrity, and for the establishing in the Queen City of a closed-shop 'design establishment' to which everyone must pay obeisance no matter the merits of the members.

Frank Lloyd Wright had to fight for sixteen years and through eight different designs in order to get his final design for New York's Guggenheim Museum past New York's planning establishment, even as the planners enthusiastically embraced the concrete-box public-housing disasters that within a decade became the slums of the sixties. Frank wasn't part of the 'establishment.' His innovations weren't welcome, and would be unlikely to score highly on Hubbard's scorecard either.

"A member of the taskforce who did not want to be named, told the Herald last week that most developers would welcome the stricter rules 'but some of the development community is going to be upset'." What the Herald doesn't say is that, due to recent regulatory and statutory impositions from government both central and loca,l many members of the 'development community' are already former members of that 'community'.

Expect to see more designers and developers retiring from the business as the stranglehold of mediocrity and meddling takes over in Auckland City.

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2. ACTing against property rights

ACT's Rodney Hide gave a speech yesterday in which he resurrected the New Zealand Party slogan from 1984, 'Freedom and Prosperity.'

Nothing wrong with that, it's a great slogan, and if a party's policy being enacted is a measure of election victory, then Bob Jones's New Zealand Party won that election by a mile. Bob Jones always maintained that selling the 'prosperity' part of the package was easy, it was selling people on the 'f-word' that was a little more problematic.

So it is with Rodney's speech.

Rodney declared that in order to be free and prosperous, we need four things: Tax cuts, Tighter control of government spending, Sanctity of private property rights, and Freedom to contract. A few things missing there, but let's agree that all these are necessary, if not sufficient.

I'm particularly happy that Rodney is in favour of protecting property rights, so I leapt straight to that section of the speech to see how he proposed to protect them. Property rights, you see, are a bulwark of freedom and the key to both prosperity and environmental success -- and to freedom -- and they've been under vigorous attack from the Local Government Act, the Public Works Act and the Resource Management Act for some years now, as I'm sure Rodney knows.

They're under attack now in Auckland City from Hubbard's new board of aesthetic advisors; they're under attack in the Upper Clyde with the decision to disallow Shania Twain the right to build her house on her own land; they're under attack in the Waikato with a bullying SOE trying to force pylons and power lines across the property of unwilling farmers; they're under attack in Greater Auckland with the Auckland Regional Council's 'PLan Change 6 -- hell, property rights areunder attack everywhere!

So what is Rodney proposing for the protection of property rights? After rightly bemoaning the present state of affairs, he declares ACT "will ensure that property rights are never taken without compensation." Huh?! That's what ACT call protecting the sanctity of property rights? Subsidising theft? Sheesh!

Tell the Waikato farmers that's what their property rights are worth. Tell that to Shania Twain, and to Andrew Borrett, jailed for five months for clearing bush on his own land. Tell that to the ratepayers of every council in the country who will be up to their eyeballs in debt to pay compensation to people who don't want it, but who just want their property rights protected.

Unfortunately, this disgraceful apology for property rights -- the idea that property rights = compensation for 'takings' -- has als gained traction in the US, where it is known as 'eminent domain.' Let's look at the record there:

This is not the sanctity of private property rights, this is legal plunder. Time for a rethink, Rodney.

ENDS

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