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Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

This week several things reminded me of why I'm here, in Parliament, trying to fight for individual freedom, small government, property rights, choice and personal responsibility.

One was a comment made by a dear friend, recently returned from visiting her son in America. He told her that the fart tax, and the foreshore and seabed issue were sufficient to stop him from ever returning to this country. It's just too hard, he said. Better to stay offshore where his successful endeavours are celebrated instead of punished.

Another was a trip to Queenstown, where, while I was there, the earth moved (to the centre-right, I'm reliably informed). This town has really gotten its act together as far as the service industry goes - it's tourist orientated and efficient. At Eichardt's Hotel house bar we enjoyed some drinks before moving on to dinner elsewhere. "Would we like a cab ordered? Would we like a reservation made?" the barman asked us. Nothing seemed too much trouble.

But shock, horror! People were SMOKING in this bar. In fact, the cosy fire itself was SMOKING! That won't do at all, according to this Labour Government. When the new law comes into effect, the bar owner could be fined $4000 if any customers light up.

And if the new Holidays Bill is passed, which forces employers to pay time and a half plus give days in lieu for public holidays worked - even if penal rates are already built into collective agreements or salaries - bars like this will either close on public holidays or charge a surcharge.

Or cut down on good staff, reduce the quality of service, and see customers go elsewhere, putting that great bar manager out of work.

Then yesterday I received a letter from a fan in Nelson, reminding me that today is the first anniversary of my maiden speech to The House, and that it "must not be allowed to go unnoticed." Thank you Andy, and bless you.

I dug out my speech to see what I'd said and whether I'd made progress. I'm not so sure. Here are some extracts - you be the judge:

"A free and fair society helps the poor by promoting jobs and growth, providing opportunities for all, and a social safety net. A free and fair society does this without penalising success with envy-driven taxation schemes."

Well, the Holidays Amendment Bill, the Four Weeks Annual Leave Bill, the Health & Safety in Employment Amendment Act, and the soon-to-be-feared Employment Relations Act Amendment Bill will stifle growth, promote unemployment and lower wages, as surely as a labrador loves grub.

Increased taxes on the rural community - just because the Agriculture Minister thinks they're doing nicely, thankyou - and on business - simply because they can afford it, are penalising hard work and success. We shouldn't take something from someone else just because they have it and we don't. But that's how this government gets its jollies.

What else did I say in my maiden speech?

"A fair society does not turn those who work hard and accumulate wealth into pariahs, driving them offshore. We should reward effort, not take someone else's riches simply because we don't have them.

"We have a country that was built, in part, by pioneering men and women making lives for themselves in a remote and difficult land. They were self-reliant, they helped each other, and fundamental to their turning New Zealand into a first-world country was the protection of their property rights.

"Edmund Burke once stated that bad law is the worst form of tyranny. The Resource Management Act certainly fits that description."

But now we have increased tyranny. The Government's response to the Appeal Court's decision on the Maori land claim to foreshore and seabed, for instance. Government has decided that, in the interests of not offending those who don't own this land, no one will own the land. In fact we won't even talk about ownership. We'll abolish the notion of property altogether. It seems the foreshore belongs to everyone and no one. Just how that will work is anyone's guess.

Perhaps more alarming is this government's determination to push through 'right to roam' laws, whereby the property rights of those who own private land which may block access to mountain tops or foreshores (except access by boat) will be taken away. "Public access" is the PC term which relates to this legislation, and it's being pushed by those with a fascist agenda.

When I grew up on a farm, Dad was happy to let mushroom gatherers, firewood choppers, or fishermen go through our land, so long as they asked first, closed the gates behind them, and climbed the fences beside a strainer post. But legislation coming up would give the farmer no right to bar 'roamers' from his land. The security issues this raises, in terms of wives and children left alone in the house while Dad's out the back of the farm, don't bear thinking about.

Clearly there is much to be done. In twelve months this country has retreated further from the vision I spoke of in my maiden speech. But I'm still an optimist. I do believe, that with a population of only four million people, we could be a beacon for the rest of the world. We did it once, in 1984, in terms of economic freedom in the making. With more high quality ACT MPs we could do it again. Why don't you stand?

Yours in liberty,

Deborah Coddington

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