Monday, January 29, 2018

Jail for damaging trees is an indictment on New Zealand

Every now and then I come across a story that makes me despair at the extent to which our individual rights are being eroded beyond the point of redemption. Just such a story was in the New Zealand media last week reporting how an Auckland developer, Augustine Lau, has been sentenced to two and a half months in jail for damaging trees on his own property. This isn't the first case of its kind in this country but it is a new milestone on a path that leads to the situation that exists in Bolivia, where trees and bugs have rights but those of humans are ignored.

My own residence in Wellington has a large section that my wife and I have restored to native forest, with new kauri, rimu and totara established amongst a miriad of smaller trees. Prior to our ownership, the property had been neglected and had been used as a rubbish tip. Our land adjoins public reserve land, which remains in a similar or worse state to what our property was originally, despite our efforts to persuade the local council to take better care of it. I state this so that readers will understand that I am not a philistine where the environment is concerned and to demonstrate that public ownership and interference in property rights is no guarantee of protection of the environment - in fact, quite the opposite.

The trees that Lau damaged were mostly pohutakawa, which are very common and so readily self-seeded that they tend to be a nuisance. They are certainly no General Sherman. But even if they were, trees on private property belong to the property owner and other than in a few cases where their removal may directly affect a neighbouring property (which would be covered by tort), no one else should have a legal interest in them. The fact that the Auckland Council is prepared to use the full force of the state's legal monopoly on violence against Lau for dealing with his own trees is an indication on how disproportionate our public planning laws have become.

It seems from the new reports that Mr Lau is not the most cooperative fellow and he appears to have a track record of breaches of the planning laws are concerned. In fact he sounds like a rogue. But nothing he has done comes close to justifying the Auckland Council's use of the state's legal monopoly on violence to deprive him of his freedom. This is a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a obstinate nut, and it is an indictment on the status of property rights in New Zealand that such a disproportionate response is possible under our planning laws.

1 comment:

Lolitas brother said...

In the essay on Da Vinci above you stated that we live in a tolerant society. We do not, as this idictment shows clearly. New Zealand is rapidly descending down the path of judicial activism with an overlord antagonism toward property rights. Intolerance to anything representing wayward attitudes at all from the socially prescribed norm is a feature of our mob think Society. We are heading for civilisational collapse.