Media release: NZ Initiative applauds Human Rights Commission Report

7 November, 2016

Wellington (7 November 2016): The New Zealand Initiative welcomes and supports The Human Rights Commission’s call for greater protection for citizen’s property rights in New Zealand” said executive director, Dr Oliver Hartwich.
The Initiative’s Head of Research, Dr Eric Crampton, adds, “The NZHRC’s reminder that property rights are human rights could not have a better exemplar than the Christchurch Red Zone. The stories the Commission has gathered are compelling. When property rights are treated as second-class, it is those citizens that governments view as second-class who are most at risk. Would the Red Zone have been treated similarly if most of the land damage happened in Ilam and Fendalton rather than Bexley, Avonside and Aranui? To ask the question is to answer it. Of course not.”
Crampton added, “The Government has to take this report seriously and embed property rights in the Bill of Rights. It matters even if we never have another earthquake. Councils have been seeking powers of eminent domain under Urban Development Authorities. In America, this has led to substantial abuses where councils have taken the property of the poor for the benefit of the politically powerful. Recognising property rights helps prevent those injustices.”
Dr Hartwich continued, “Business organisations in New Zealand have been making this case for decades”.
In 2009, Victoria University of Wellington researchers Kevin Council and Professors Lew Evans and Neil Quigley published an international comparison that showed the lack of formal protections in New Zealand. In the same year the government’s Regulatory Responsibility Taskforce proposed a Bill including protection of property rights. This year Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler’s proposal for a written constitution for New Zealand included a substantial property rights protection clause”.
“We urge the government to respond to the Commission’s call in a way that addresses these serious concerns”, he concluded.

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