Doug Schmuck owns and runs a boatyard in Opua in the Bay of Islands. The boatyard borders a public reserve. Schmuck wants to use that land as a slipway and other uses related to his business. In fact, he is already using the land and has already constructed at least one building that partially sites on the reserve land, all without permission. Basically, he wants to take public land over for his private purpose.
The Far North District Council is OK with that but locals aren’t and it’s not the council’s decision because the land is covered by the Reserves Act. So, Schmuck has kept on trying through various avenues to get permission and has been rejected repeatedly. All up his efforts to expropriate public land have cost the government, his opponents, and himself about $600,000.
Then, after being repeatedly turned down and in the teeth of locals’ opposition to this guy taking over part of their public space for his business, Schmuck came up with a bright idea: get a dodgy minister to help him out. So, he got in contact with John Carter (it would be interesting to know more about their relationship).
Carter surreptitiously and without public notice, giving locals no chance to oppose it, inserted clauses into the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill, a technical bill meant for non-controversial matters, at the end of its select committee stage. Carter’s clauses create an exemption from the Reserves Act that will extend only to “the current registered proprietor of the adjoining land”. That allows Schmuck personally and only Schmuck to use the whole reserve for essentially whatever he wants including constructing buildings on it.
This is simply corrupt. Carter has gifted public land to this man and made a special law just for him, over the objections of locals, and against the advice of officials who opposed both this particular instance and the precedent it sets of making law specifically for the business interests of one individual. Carter, of course, blames the whole issue on the people who have objected to Schmuck’s takeover of the land and claims he is just preventing further expenditure on a minor issue. The proper answer should be for Schmuck to confine his business to the land he has the right to operate it on.
Thousands protest the Supercity, ACC cuts, ACE cuts, the ETS, and wage freezes and the government just ignores them. But with the corrupt trio of National, Act, and the Maori Party in power, there’s no rule or law that can’t be bent or broken if you are a businessman with the ear, or some other soft part, of a minister.