“While the Australian Constitution insists on just compensation provisions for the erosion of property rights, the NSW Government is able to avoid this requirement. Thousands of NSW businesses, investors and property owners have suffered as a result. If elected on March 23, One Nation will legislate for the protection of property rights and the creation of fair compensation laws, to end the great government rip-off of property owners.”
Traditionally property rights have been a foundation stone of a free society and a market economy. People should have the capacity to own, manage and control their private property without excessive government interference. Property rights protect people from heavy-handed, intrusive government trying to erode what’s rightfully theirs.
The state should only interfere with private property when there is clear evidence of the common good being damaged. And when it does, compensation must be paid for any loss of economic value and earnings. This is a basic principle of fairness.
With the rise of know-all/nanny state government, however, property rights have been under attack. NSW Ministers have allowed unbridled public power to wipe the interests of individuals. Public servants have sought to justify their existence by inventing new invasive regulations that dramatically increase the cost of business and property ownership – an example of bureaucratic ‘mission creep’.
This has led to perverse legal outcomes. The Federal Government, for instance, has met its Kyoto targets by urging the NSW Government to introduce strict land-clearing restrictions on farmers. If the Commonwealth had done this directly then under Section 51 (xxxi) of the Constitution, the wiping of property rights would have required the payment of compensation “on just terms”. State Governments have no such legal obligation.
In six key areas of public administration (listed below) the Berejiklian Government has betrayed the conservative sanctity of property rights. It has harassed farmers, destroyed businesses, ripped off investors and denied homeowners a fair chance of defending their properties against land erosion. If elected to NSW parliament on 23 March, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will seek to protect the rights and financial interests of NSW property owners through the introduction of a Property Rights and Just Compensation Act.
Farm Land Clearing
In the late 1990s the Carr Government passed laws locking up farmland from vegetation clearing, wiping the property rights of thousands. The Federal Government was complicit, using Draconian land-clearing laws to help Australia meet its Kyoto emission targets. NSW farmers were never paid compensation for this restriction on their land use.
In recent years the NSW Government has started a round of farmer prosecutions on the land-clearing question. Hundreds have been sent breach notices, with more than a dozen court proceedings underway. Despite rhetoric about helping farmers during this terrible time of drought, the State Office of Environment and Heritage has aggressively pursued its prosecutorial rampage, especially in the western districts of NSW around Moree. Fines run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, on top of expensive legal fees.
The NSW Government should call off the dogs. One Nation will defend farmers’ property rights and economic viability, urging a moratorium on these prosecutions. We also believe in restoring the capacity of farmers to undertake broad-scale clearing of their land, with no more than 20 percent of any farm covered by clearing restrictions (subject to sensible exemptions, such as when wetlands extend across the property). Under the impact of current laws, some farms have had nearly all their land locked up.
NSW farmers are also being prosecuted for building dams on their properties. The major parties talk about the importance of ‘drought proofing’ but then turn around and set lawyers upon farmers who are trying to do that. During this time of severe drought the prosecutions should be dropped.
Currently in NSW, it’s a bureaucratic nightmare for farmers to achieve State Government approval for dam construction. They have to wade through scores of pages of regulatory verbiage, complying with the requirements of multiple agencies. Inspectors even march onto farm properties, with a long list of nanny state rules on their clipboards, specifying the exact size and location of the dam in question. It’s a massive invasion of farmer property rights.
One Nation will end State Government meddling in this area. We will return farm dam approvals to the Development Application powers of local government. Any headwater and catchment concerns about the proposed dams will be addressed in the usual manner by notifying adjoining property owners, with due consideration of the public interest. If adjoining owners have no objection to the proposed dam, it should be built.
Sea Wall Construction
For the past decade the NSW Government has been running a ‘planned retreat’ policy for coastal properties. This is in response to the alleged threat of rising sea levels (climate change alarmism). As a result, it is almost impossible for homeowners to have the construction of defensive sea walls (to combat natural events such as sea storms and soil erosion) approved, even at their own expense.
Instead, property owners are expected to rebuild on higher land as part of a ‘retreat plan’. In some NSW coastal areas, the retreat has been made compulsory, with no compensation payable. Not surprisingly, property values on affected sites have collapsed, with the asset effectively frozen in the housing market.
One Nation’s Property Rights and Just Compensation Act will give coastal homeowners the right to defend their properties against ocean storms and land erosion. The know-how exists for the sound construction of sea walls, so it should be used. Any adverse governmental impact on their property rights will automatically trigger the fair payment of compensation.
Mum and dad investors have also lost property rights. After the corruption of the former Labor Government, in 2014 the Coalition cancelled NuCoal’s Doyles Creek exploration mining licence, acting on an ICAC recommendation. Legislation was rushed through parliament late at night. Yet ICAC had also recommended that the Government compensate innocent parties, whereby “NuCoal and those of its innocent shareholders not involved in the corrupt conduct were contemplated with any innocent party (definition)”.
Remarkably, the legislation absolved the NSW Government of financial liability for corrupt ministerial conduct while failing to pay compensation to NuCoal investors. The company’s 3000 shareholders were forced to carry responsibility for something they had not done, with considerable loss of economic value.
One Nation will fight in the next term of NSW Parliament to deliver financial justice for Nucoal shareholders.
George Street Sydney
The Light Rail debacle in George Street is well known. The Berejiklian Government talks a big game in ‘infrastructure delivery’ but in truth, it can’t build a couple of tram tracks down the main street of Sydney. Everything that could go wrong with this project over the past three years has gone wrong.
Worst of all, it has crippled adjoining businesses, to the point where 60 of them have commenced a class action in the NSW Supreme Court for $40 million compensation. Businesses were initially told the construction damaging their trade would only last nine months. Yet for many, there is no sign of the agony ending. Other small businesses have closed down or have had to move elsewhere. So far, the State Government rental assistance has been paltry.
These hard working business owners and their families deserve full compensation and an apology from the NSW Government. Their property rights have been wiped – victims of government incompetence. One Nation believes the $40 million compensation should be paid immediately so that the court case can be called off.
The NSW Government is committed to building a city the size of Adelaide around the Badgerys Creek Airport site. That is, 1.3 million people – the largest expansion in Sydney’s history. To facilitate this latest burst of urban sprawl, planning powers have been removed from local government and placed in the hands of a new authority, the so-called Aerotropolis.
Last year affected landowners in semi-rural districts such as Bringelly and Kelvin Park were alarmed to be told by Aerotropolis officials that the State Government planned to resume their land at its unimproved value, rezone it themselves and make huge profits from the subsequent residential development. Only through the intervention of One Nation and Alan Jones was this madcap proposal dropped.
The landowners now have a tentative assurance from Planning Minister Roberts that any acquisition will occur only at the approved (rezoned) value. This is another reminder of how vulnerable property owners in NSW are to exploitative state power. Older residents at Bringelly and Kelvin Park said they couldn’t sleep at night for fear of the Aerotropolis ripping them off.
A new Property Rights and Just Compensation Act will avoid this possibility into the future. It will give all land and property owners in NSW security of their rights and financial position.