Stephen Franks blogs about The Historic Places Trust being able toÂ literally take your property on the basis of some weasel words in theÂ legislation.
It deserves wider attention, and so I re-post it in full.
Iâve been around the law and politics for some time. Legislation is moulded by politics. Some politicians insist on obscure language to disguise the real effect of law, to delay opponents realising how far it goes. I understand that. We live in a democracy. Democracies need politicians who act to minimise the number who want to vote them out. So a law-writing Â hand may getÂ an irresistible urge to obfuscate .
Until recently we had some protectionÂ fromÂ Parliamentary Counsel. There was a convention supportingÂ someÂ gate-keeper role in rejecting such deceit, but it seems that semi-constitutionalÂ filter has gone.
There are less cynical and offensive ways to deceive the public, but deceptively written law is becoming ânormalâ. Few lawyers in Parliament have the background to detect it, which may have something to do with selections for identity group âreflectionâ instead ofÂ established merit.
The increase may also be because the deceitful hand is not necessarily that of Â the politician. Â Officials with an agenda their elected masters wonât like have the time to hide their obfuscations deep in dense language. Politicians may not work out what they are voting for until too late.
A Bill well through the Parliamentary process âupdatingâ the Historic Places Trust legislation is a classic example. The 1993 Act over-rode property rights, but only for the unfortunates who happen to ownÂ really oldÂ places, The replacement Bill turns that limited exception into general contempt for the property rights. Now they are to be confiscated from pretty much anyoneÂ with property that âHeritage New Zealand Pouhere Taongaâ finds appealing. The Board can declare a place to be category 1 or 2 protected (economically seized for practical purposes) if they are satisfied of its âsignificance or value in relation toâ any one or more of its:
- âTechnical accomplishment, value, or designâ;
- âSymbolic or commemorative valueâ;
- âCommunity associationâ;
- âPublic esteemâ;
- âPotential for public educationâ;
- âImportance to tangata whenuaâ;
- âExtent to which it forms part of a wider âŠcultural areaâ.
Observe thatÂ none of those need have anything to do with history. Â Read more »