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New Zealand Bill of Rights (Private Property Rights) Amendment Bill—Law Commission Opinion

Tuesday 16 October 2007 Hansard source (external site)

Copeland7. GORDON COPELAND (Independent) Link to this
to the Attorney-General

Does he stand by his statement to the House of 12 September 2007: “My understanding is that the Law Commission, which is headed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, has taken the view that before any such change should occur, there would need to be a great deal of work on what the legal implications of it might be.”, in relation to my New Zealand Bill of Rights (Private Property Rights) Amendment Bill; if so, how did he reach that understanding?

CullenHon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Attorney-General) Link to this

Yes; because that is what Sir Geoffrey communicated to me.

CopelandGordon Copeland Link to this

Is he nevertheless now prepared to accept that in line with the evidence sent to the select committee, it is in fact also the view of the Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer, President of the Law Commission, that private property rights should be included in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act?

CullenHon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN Link to this

I am aware that indeed Sir Geoffrey made a speech on 10 February 2006 in which he stated that fact. However, both he and Professor Burrows of the Law Commission believe that before any such step could be taken, a comprehensive study of New Zealand statute law and common law is necessary to work out the policy and fiscal implications of any such change. No such study has been done, and it would be irresponsible to make such a change until one was done.

CopelandGordon Copeland Link to this

Does the Attorney-General concede that the taking of a person’s property by central or local government without compensation is theft; if so, is the Government prepared to outlaw such actions for all time by giving property rights the protection of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act?

CullenHon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN Link to this

The ability to take property is covered by a range of other legislation, which also includes the right to compensation. The member’s bill, of course, also refers to the use and enjoyment of a person’s property. Given, first of all, a lack of definition of property, which has a very wide meaning in the law, and the language of use and enjoyment, which is extremely wide indeed, one could be asking for compensation for everything. As Attorney-General, I believe we have enough litigation already without inviting a vast increase in the amount that we have.

CopelandGordon Copeland Link to this

If this great deal of work, which was suggested by Sir Geoffrey Palmer of the Law Commission and which the Attorney-General referred to earlier, were to be done, is his Government prepared to commit so that all New Zealanders, including those of modest means who do not have the resources to defend their rights through the courts, can be assured of having their private property rights protected through the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990?

CullenHon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN Link to this

If such a large exercise were engaged in, then, depending on the results, obviously the Government would consider the results of that exercise.

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