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This site may, in fact always will contain images and information likely to cause consternation, conniptions, distress, along with moderate to severe bedwetting among statists, wimps, wusses, politicians, lefties, green fascists, and creatures of the state who can't bear the thought of anything that disagrees with their jaded view of the world.

Apr 20, 2008

Property Rights and state Theft.

Illustration from 'Defending the Undefendable' 'The Curmudgeon' by Walter Block. Click to enlarge.

The first part of this post appeared in ‘Thoughts on Freedom’ under the title of Do You Own Your House? and was written by Terje Petersen.

The Sydney Morning Herald carries an article on Saturdays front page lamenting the power the state of NSW is giving itself in regards to bipassing property rights.
“THE State Government plans to give its agencies and councils power to compulsorily acquire private land to re-sell to developers at a profit - or, if they choose, at a reduced price so the developers make even more money.

Legal authorities describe as “quite remarkable” a section of new planning laws flagged by the Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, to acquire land by force to onsell to private developers.”
I agree with the concerns raised in the article. However I do find odd the notion that governments stealing your land and selling it is somehow worse than stealing your land and keeping it. And is there really any distinction between stealing your land so a private for profit road can be built for the public good or stealing your land so a private for profit shopping mall can be built for the public good? In one sense I think there is a distinction in so far as new road corridors are not easily or readily created through private market means, whilst shopping centres are. However the key legal constraint on governments (at all tiers) really ought to be a proper and transparent assessment process of the public benefit of such a forced acquisition which is open to legal challenge, and a system of just compensation.

Thanks Terje.

The article goes on to state: -

"Under the current law, the minister is not able to re-sell land which has been acquired or transfer it to another person. The new scheme expressly allows that, and makes it clear that it may be done as part of a profitable proposal by a private developer."

Mr Sartor insists the law will only be used to ensure developments for the greater public benefit cannot be blocked, but the Greens - who have helped to expose the extent of developers' donations to the Labor Party - say it could invite corruption.

"Given the whole stench surrounding developer donations, it lends added weight to the view that this Government is introducing the most developer-friendly laws ever seen in this state," the Greens MP Sylvia Hale said.

A similar US state law to transfer land from one private owner to another for an urban renewal plan in New London, Connecticut, caused national uproar several years ago. In 2005, the US Supreme Court upheld the law by the narrowest of margins but it was widely criticised as a gross violation of property rights and 42 states passed laws to limit the impact of the court's decision.
This wont just invite corruption, it will ensure it, and in the process will downgrade ownership of property to a form of tenancy that will only exist until some official wants it for a pet project, or a developer wants it enough to bribe the local authority for that area.

This has all the worst aspects of the notorious ‘eminent domain’ laws in the US.

While Mr. Sartor insists the law will only be used to ensure developments for the greater public benefit cannot be blocked, it is not what he says now that is the case, it is what law he puts on the books and how it is interpreted in the courts.

Mr. Sartor's spokeswoman said it followed two court cases that might have frustrated good planning, and the ability to compulsorily acquire land for "important public outcomes" had been a longstanding, accepted practice for Government.

The gaul of the bastards, what of the owners rights – I am sure their plans for the land were good from their perspectives, even if they didn’t have the grand designs of Sartor, and they had the right to keep theirs as they owned the land.

What after all is the most important public outcome, Mr. Sartor’s pet developers ideas or secure property rights?

1 comment:

  1. Just watch what they consider "for the good" of all concerned. And - watch who gets all the contracts. It's enough to make a person want another Boston Tea Party!

    The Pink Flamingo