Protecting Property Rights Benefits All
12 October 2006
Sanctity of property rights is fundamental to a just and civil society, said Don Nicolson, vice president of Federated
Farmers of New Zealand.
Mr Nicolson made the comments to a Parliamentary select committee considering the New Zealand Bill of Rights (Private
Property Rights) Amendment Bill, sponsored by United Future’s Gordon Copeland.
Federated Farmers strongly supports the bill, which seeks to change the Bill of Rights 1990. Protection of property
rights was for some reason omitted from the original Bill of Rights.
The proposed lawchange seeks to safeguard private property rights. “By enshrining the security that property rights
confer, society is protecting many of the other values it holds dear,” Mr Nicolson said.
"Private property rights are important guarantees of other freedoms that the Bill of Rights seeks to protect. The right
to own property is rightly regarded as an indispensable basis for economic prosperity and social well-being. Without
property, individuals become dependant on government and vulnerable to state coercion.
"As well as affirming, protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Bill of Rights affirms New
Zealand's commitment to the International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights. The covenant guarantees equal and
effective protection against discrimination on the basis of property.
“If we are to have a Bill of Rights affirming the covenant, it should affirm all the rights in the covenant, not just
ones the government of the day chooses.
"Property rights have been protected constitutionally for centuries. It is a feature of the Magna Carta and the Treaty
of Waitangi. Yet property rights are being continually eroded by legislation such as the Resource Management Act and the
myriad of local planning restrictions the RMA has brought about.
"The institution of property rights is too important to be allowed to languish. Protecting property in the Bill of
Rights would signal to government, the courts and local authorities that rights in property are hugely important to
society,” Mr Nicolson said. “That’s why we strongly support Gordon Copeland’s bill.”