The return of the Schmuck

Written By: - Date published: 10:18 am, June 14th, 2010 - 16 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Parliament, privatisation - Tags: , ,

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?

16 comments on “The return of the Schmuck”

  1. Bored 1

    “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.”

    Does that mean that we head there immediately and start building? Could be fun.

    • felix 1.1


    • Lanthanide 1.2

      “to allow ‘anybody’ to build structures on and use this one reserve for private use”

      Could not a group of locals decide to build their own constructions on the reserve to frustrate Schmuck’s business? Like build nice concrete walls in front of his buildings, etc. Or indeed build nice native bush plantations? Presumably if it’s a public reserve, Schmuck has no say over what is being built there as he doesn’t own the rights to.

      • Bright Red 1.2.1

        I can picture him building structures out and others building structures to cut him off. The ‘race to the sea’ for the 21st century… in miniture…. in Opua.

  2. DeeDub 2

    Schmuck by name schmuck by nature.

  3. ASKNOT 3

    John Carter MP asserted on Radio NZ this morning that Parliament can do what it wants…. that’s his justification for the “Schmuck Clauses.” I thought we were a constitutional democracy … I guess I was wrong. Thank you Mr Carter for clarifying the absolute power you and your mates enjoy.

    • ianmac 3.1

      He did say “Parliament can do what it wants” which may be true. But it is an indicator of the huge belief of Entitlement of Nact. Reminds me of GW Bush: We do it because we can. Can ECan because we can.

  4. John G 4

    Generally I am a supporter of what the Standard stands for. However in this case I don’t think all the facts are on the table. I know Doug Schmuck (not well). My understanding of his situation is that basically he has nowhere to turn to. He has a yard that is in a position that he didn’t create where the only access is through a reserve. Nobody wants to sort it out. I am not a nat supporter and certainly not a carter supporter, but they appear to be the only ones attempting to sort it. Kicking him out is not the solution as he runs a great boatyard, the loss of which would only disadvantage the boating community.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      He has a yard that is in a position that he didn’t create where the only access is through a reserve.

      Yes, actually, he did create the situation. According to you he started a business that requires access to the water on land that doesn’t have access to water. Rather stupid of him really and certainly not something the community should be paying to correct for his benefit.

    • felix 4.2

      John G perhaps you could clarify the issues for us then, as from the info I’ve seen it’s not at all clear that the problem is to do with access to the water at all.

      It sounds to me like the issue is accessing his property, from the road, through a reserve.

      Here’s the google streetview.

      Can you tell us what’s going on in this picture?

  5. prism 5

    If I remember rightly he is from USA. I have heard stories from there about how you can buy yourself a judge or politician if you go about it the right way.
    Perhaps this is one of his useful skills he entered on his application for entry to NZ?

    Some locals say they could agree to his keeping the skids to the water that he has already but he wants to build on the reserve also, and is being given a pretty free hand by the sounds of the legislation. Surely he has to cope with the situation he has which is similar to when he got into the business. Every businessperson has to plan and manage their business within limitations.

    The locals and council could give him a temporary lease or right so he can get his boats to the water. It would be vetted by an experienced legal beagle and be without prejudice, ex gratia, time limited, and not forgetting the party of the third part, but only at Christmas, New Year and Queens Birthday. The law is good at tying people in knots, so give this guy a little rope, but don’t let it get into public commons or whatever, so that he and his assigns blah blah end up with permanent right of way. OK all fixed. I’ll send my bill by courier.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    I honestly can’t think of a bigger indication of corruption in the National Party. Blinglish’s rort of the taxpayer was, although completely immoral, technically legal but this is where the NACTs are rewriting the laws for their mates benefit at the communities expense.

  7. John G 7

    I think that the problem is that the yard crosses an esplanade reserve, so yes, access to the water is his problem. He bought this yard with these problems in place already and has been trying to sort them for years. As I said I don’t know him well. I met him at a party and talked to him about the yard. Putting the boot in because he’s a yank who may have money makes us leftys appear no better than the vitriol that comes from some right wing blogs.

    • felix 7.1

      Thanks, I’d like to hear more specifics if anyone knows anything. Totally agree with your last sentence.

  8. Mike 8

    For 28 years, from 1966 to 1994, the boat yard operated without controversy.
    Mr Schmuck purchased the boat yard business in 1994 with all the rights and consents it requires and he is still operating, after 16 years, successfully with these permits in place. There is no problem. The boat yard has always had the right to move boats across the reserve onto yard and back into the water. Everybody supports this. But Mr Schmuck wants more, he wants to repair, maintain, wash down boats, discharge contaminants and build one or more structures on the reserve land. In short, he wants to expand his business onto the public land. That’s the issue. Previous owners have never made any claims for the use of the public land in question except for access.

    Following purchase Mr Schmuck began attempts to claim the use rights for the public land.
    He has been turned down many times and but kept applying. The repeat applications were the source of controversy and spiraling costs. His perceived problem with regard to getting what he wants is that the Reserves Act does not allow private industrial use of public esplanade reserve land. But this is not a problem, it is the solution. There is no problem. John Carter said on morning report yesterday that “The sooner this thing gets resolved the better’. What needs to be resolved? Neither Mr Schmuck nor Mr Carter have offered any credible reasons why Mr Schmuck should operate his private business on public land. This is challenging the integrity of the Reserves Act and the ROLD process as well as Parliamentary Standing Orders in general. And that’s the real problem. This will set a precedent and expose other reserves in the country for similar annexations attempts.

    Mr Carter said on morning report that the reason for his supporting the inclusion of this private matter in a public bill is to end costs to the public. He still does not understand that the costs have now been stopped – by the Department of Conservation upholding the law, in this case the Reserves Act. Allowing the clauses would open up the processes again for more applications and costs. It still baffles me why John Carter is so keen to allow this.

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