Private property ownership is the foundation upon which our legal system, our society and our economy rests. New Zealand is a country full of hard-working people as well as innovative entrepreneurs who are the engines of our economy. We rely on the seemingly solid legal framework that protects the earnings from our work everyday. What’s rightfully yours or mine should not be taken or severely restricted by the government without any legal redress.
But that’s what is happening right now.
Removal of our basic legal rights is happening in the aftermath of our nation’s greatest natural disaster: the Canterbury earthquakes.
The most powerful law passed since World War II, CER Act (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act), gave government unprecedented powers. However well-intended the law might be, the reality of these powers gives rise to serious injustice..
One issue specifically impacts on the lives of individual homeowners.
Home ownership is one of the cornerstones which many New Zealanders have worked hard to achieve.
What we are witnessing right now may be later regarded by history as the pivotal moment for or against our most basic of rights, after life and liberty.
1. The very notion of zoning which areas are allowed to repair and rebuild is a violation of our civil liberties. The basic freedom of choosing where and how we live, for purposes that do not impact the public’s health or safety, is being thrown out of the window.
2. The action of zoning an area not allowed to rebuild interferes with the private contractual rights of home insurance. Homeowners in these areas cannot exercise their full contractual rights because of the zoning imposed on their property by government.
3. The supposedly voluntary buyout offer is structured in such a way that it is in effect, compulsory, conveniently bypassing existing laws that regulate taking of land by government.
There are times when government must take property in the conduct of providing services to citizens, but it must do so only when there is no other just alternative, and done to give everyone a fair deal.
The taking of property by government should also be open to public scrutiny and be subject to oversight. A natural disaster should not be used as an excuse to discard the democratic process. Public officials must be held accountable by citizens from whom they derive their power.
All New Zealanders must strongly support the right of every home owner to choose their own destiny. The danger of government having too much power is far too real for any New Zealander to ignore.