Brash slates National, says NZ under threat

Last updated 13:46 03/09/2011
ACT Party leader Don Brash.
NO. 1: ACT party leader Don Brash.

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Don Brash wants the Bill of Rights changed to give home owners greater rights to do what they want with their property.

In a speech to ACT party faithful in Auckland today at its annual conference, new leader Brash delivered the keynote speech saying the country was in the grip of an emergency so bad New Zealand "faces serious threats to its continued existence".

"As a nation, we are experiencing a long slow emergency. As collapses go, our decline is comfortable and scenic. But we should be under no illusion: if we continue down this track, New Zealand will gradually become a backwater, delivering an ever poorer environment for everybody," he said.

"Our children will grow up cheering for the Wallabies."

Taking a jab at the party he hopes to form a governing coalition with after this year's election he slated National as being to timid to deal with the problem.

"I don't believe that my old party has what it takes to make this change. The faith I once had has been destroyed by the National Party's extreme timidity in the face of this crisis."

Laying out a vision of what he wanted, he said New Zealand had to be a place where the young can own a home without a lifetime of debt, farmers needed to have a freer had at doing what they wanted with their land and businesses needed to be able to grow without "concern that their use of land will bring with it intolerable regulatory burdens".

The crux of it all was property rights, Brash told the ACT conference.

"I believe that the single biggest hurdle facing New Zealand's economic future is this creeping erosion of property rights," he said.

"The ownership of property now confers the freedom to use it as the owner sees fit only within narrow constraints set out by people who don't bear the cost of those constraints. Increasingly decisions at the local level are being made by those with a commitment to vague new-age planning philosophies rather than rational environmental outcomes," Brash said - calling such regulation "Greenmail."

He said the ultimate answer was to amend the Bill of Rights Act to include specific reference to property rights.

"It [the current Act] guarantees New Zealanders freedom of thought, religion, peaceful assembly, and movement, as well as the right to justice and the right to vote - but not the right to own and use property.

"ACT would push to amend the Bill of Rights Act to protect the right to own and use property as the owner sees fit absent a physical threat to others or the property of others."

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"We would reverse the notion that people can use their property only in accordance with local government plans. Instead, we believe that central and local governments should respect the wishes of property owners. ACT wants the law to provide that, provided baseline environmental conditions are met, any activity would be permitted."

One of the outcomes would be to make housing cheaper, he claimed, as more land could be opened up for housing development.

"As a result of over-inflated house prices, we are creating a society of haves and have-nots. The haves own their own homes and find themselves with healthy nest eggs; the have-nots face a seemingly insurmountable barrier between themselves and inclusion in a property-owning society.

"ACT wants affordable housing to again become a reality for all New Zealanders. We want to ensure that cities grow according to the wants of people rather than dreams of planners."

- Stuff

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