The Schmuck story could almost be a parody of National’s privatisation agenda. In Canterbury, they’re privatising the waters for the farmers. In Auckland, they’ve taken the ‘local’ and the ‘democracy’ out of local democracy to make the city a plaything for business, and are now desperately trying to get their man into power. Nationwide, they’re trying to work out how to sell public assets without provoking a massive backlash. And in Opua in the Bay of Islands, the Nats are planning to pass a law to benefit just one man, allowing him to privatise a reserve.
You might remember when we first covered the Doug Schmuck story just before Christmas.
Schmuck owns and runs a boatyard that 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.
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 claused created an exemption from the Reserves Act that would have extended only to “the current registered proprietor of the adjoining land”. That would have allowed Schmuck personally and only Schmuck to use the whole reserve for essentially whatever he wanted including constructing buildings on it.
After the public outcry, Speaker Lockwood Smith ruled that personal clauses are not permitted in a public Bill. So, National went back to the drawing board.
Now, Maurice Williamson is prosposing an amendment to the Reserves Act to allow ‘anybody’ to build structures on and use this one reserve for private use. Of course, it’s just a backhanded way to legalise Schmuck’s annexation of the land.
Williamson is hunting for support from other parties for the new Schmuck law.
Isn’t it slightly worrying that this guy Schmuck seems to have the ear, or other soft parts, of two National ministers? And that they both have the time to devote to legislation for just one man while big problems remain in both their portfolios?
Tens of thousands protest the Supercity, ACC cuts, ACE cuts, the abolition of Ecan democracy, mining the gutting of the ETS, water privatisation, and wage freezes but the government just ignores them. Then one businessman can get two ministers to try to pass a law just for him. What is going on here?