Auckland Council powers over other people’s property

The Independent Hearings Panel’s decisions on Auckland’s Unitary Plan tell us plenty about Auckland Council and their understanding of law and property rights.

Let me start by stating that Councils are notorious for ignoring case law (court interpretation of the law) in favour of their own interpretation.

To make matters worse they rarely seek legal advice and when they do the particular partners of certain law firms are more likely to agree with the Council planners so that they can fee gouge at a later date when Council gets into trouble.

That Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan has seen a stack of draconian provisions removed is telling.

Firstly it says that the ideas were stupid. Ideas like cultural assessments, framework plans, design requirements and other bureaucratic meddling.

From the beginning opponents said that these things were unlawful. Councils don’t have the legal right to lord over private property to such extent.

Who empowered the plebs at Council with the rights to meddle, dictate and control what you do on your property?

Certainly not the law. If anything the legislative environment restricts the councils to specific duties and functions.

It is important to pause and take stock that limitations on authorities are utterly important if we are to live in a purely democratic and free society. As soon as property rights are reduced in favour of a few controlling people in society then we’ve taken the first step towards a feudal dictatorial state. That notion is inconsistent with freedom and liberty.

I for one think it’s a bold but good step that the IHP has made. But now that they have done it, we should ask ourselves how a Council could have been allowed to get this far with attempts to control all in-sundry? Just why did Auckland a Council planners think they could or should have so much control?

Some would say that it’s needed but those same people would be appalled if they had to endure the same scrutiny in their own lives. Libertarians and classic for wanting control – so long as it doesn’t include themselves.

Control isn’t always at the barrel of a gun like we see in some dictatorial countries around the world. All one needs to control another is power. Permission is power over another. It’s subtle by also all consumingly dangerous in a free society. The power to grant permission to another person to do something when they should have the right to act freely is always a step too far. In some countries like Germany those rights to build on one’s own land are enshrined in constitutional law. Why? Because it safeguards freedom from those who would seek to take and dispense it at their will. Just like a fascist dictator.

The reality is that Auckland a Council was wrong to include so much control. The IHP was right to remove it.

It’s a scary proposition to empower so few. But it’s scarier that a small minority’s group felt that it was justly awarded to themselves over the masses of people so live in Auckland.

Perhaps it’s time for review and law reform. Because when authorities seek to control they are feral and we should never allow that to creep in.

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