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Property Rights Must Be Protected

Property Rights Must Be Protected

"The poorest man may, in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown - it may be frail. Its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it - the storm may enter, the rain may enter, but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement." - Pitt, the Elder, British Prime Minister.

That speech, written so long ago, holds as true today as it did then.

Pitt recognised that the poor's only power was their right to their own property. Today, the Government - nor its agencies - should be able to take private property without the owner's consent. For 300 years that concept has ensured the advance of civilization.

Labour wants to discard those principals. The John Acland-led Land Access Reference Group has made radical proposals - including public access to private land. Its report will be used to launch another attack on rural landowners.

The Reference Group was chosen to reflect Labour's desire for a pre-determined outcome, and believes the public should enjoy access to their favourite spot. It believes the public has a relationship with the land - your land.

The RMA meant landowners had to apply for permission to plough, grow, or plant. Farmers still had the ultimate weapon: access - but, no longer.

The report does away with trespass if a recreationalist is on your property. Burglars could now see their profession as State-sanctioned. Your ability to protect your assets will dwindle. As the population increases, so will the pressure on resources - whether a river, bush or historic building.

The public will destroy the resources they demand access to. The only way to conserve is through private ownership and control. People should not be excluded from resources, but management and control must ensure sustainable results. Who better than the owner to apply that control?

Humans are territorial - fences do not just define boundaries, but protect property from intruders. The result is harmony with your neighbour. We accept other's rights and know the boundaries. Compare that to the destruction of the environment, where the public owns all, and nobody is responsible.

Property rights offer the security of having exclusive use and enjoyment of your land - something we took for granted. Free riders want your asset, have the numbers, and can impose their will.

This new law will re-distribute your rights without reducing your obligation to the public.

Trampers, horse trekkers, four-wheel drivers, hunters and botanists request access to my property. They respect my need to know who is doing what and where, and I respect the tradition of giving permission.

This legislation will banish that goodwill. The public will become more demanding; property owners more protectionist. There will be more confrontation.

Mr Acland "knows" of five incidents where landowners have denied access. There are around 30,000 rural landowners - enough said.

I believe in the individual's rights over the power of the collective. There is no better way to live than in a world where we respect each other - and each other's right to differ from the "wisdom" of the day. Where we respect the right to enjoy the fruits of our labour without threat imposed by the majority.

Private ownership is an integral part of a free society. We should always fight hard to give our children the benefits we received - that were once taken for granted, but can be no longer.

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