Roy on Property Rights

Heather Roy makes a good point in her newsletter, talking about the trees issue in Auckland:

Opponents, however, believe there will now be open slather on trees – with property owners and developers engaging in the wholesale destruction of trees to make way for construction and other land alterations.

At the heart of this issue, however, is the matter of property rights. ACT believes that property owners, having worked hard to purchase their land, should be able to do with their property as they see fit – whether that is landscaping, grass-seeding, or cutting down a tree.

We Kiwis pride ourselves on having a fair, democratic and free society. Property rights are a cornerstone of any such society – yet successive governments have passed legislation that impinge on these rights.

A perfect example of this occurring was in 2004, when the then Labour-led Government rushed through the controversial Foreshore and Seabed Act – vesting the foreshore and seabed with the Crown, and taking away from iwi the right to have their claims considered in court. …

Property rights – not democracy – actually protect the weak against the strong in our society. While democracy puts power in the hands of the majority, it is property rights – individual property rights or private property rights – that are fundamental to the liberty of the individual.

Heather has put it nicely – property rights do protect the weak against the strong. And while property rights are not an absolute, they are vitally important.

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