Firstly there is the question of the Resource Management Act as an appropriate instrument for managing the environmental impact of development. This piece of legislation undermines private property rights and common law which underpins all New Zealand law. Whilst there is a need to manage environmental impacts the RMA is no longer ‘fit for purpose’. It has been re-written piecemeal to such an extent it is has been responsible for increased compliance costs and a restricted supply of land. House prices have surged as a result. The latest government tinkering will do nothing to ease the situation and will most likely make it worse. The RMA needs to be scrapped in its entirety and new legislation written that restores some balance in favour of private property rights.
Secondly, there is a worrying lack of understanding of the act by politicians and the media. As Whaleoil pointed out on Wednesday the kauri in question cannot possibly be 500 years old. Indeed it is most likely it is less than 100 years old. This might well be one of the principle reasons why a resource consent was granted because there are no grounds under the act for not granting the application. You’d have thought that a responsible media would check the facts but, hey, when have facts been allowed to get in the way of a good story, especially one in favour of the Green cause so beloved of press and TV.
If you’re gonna be a politician – at least get to know the laws of the land just so you don’t look like a prize goose when you mouth off about an issue or try to look like you’re doing something about it.
The Great Titirangi Kauri Tree caper has to be one of those moments when we collectively wonder just how bright our civic and national leaders are.
They all rushed out there, held meetings and expressed concern for the said tree, whilst openly stating they were trying to do something about it.
The fact is, there was and is no legal grounds on which they politicians could resolve the issue.
The Resource Consent can’t be revoked. Most likely a Judicial Review on process would fail to pass the required threshold test to succeed and so everyone was powerless to do anything at all.
So why not just say that?
This brings me to the main point of this article: what was this tree hugging really all about. It was about media profile. In particular it was about raising the profile of Green activist Michael Tavares. Mr Tavares is a recent Waiheke resident having been exiled from his Tasmanian home following the pulling of a similar tree hugging stunt there. It didn’t give him the credentials he craved so he sought Greener pastures in New Zealand. Where better than Waiheke, home of his mentor hard left Green party list MP Denise Roche.
Waiheke Greens are well known for their tactic of hounding private landowners into submission. They successfully forced a private landowner off his property last year but not before he had suffered a breakdown as a result of the bullying and threats. The Titirangi couple had been forced into submission quickly by the intense media attention Tavares has generated.
Owners of the Titirangi site, John Lenihan and Jane Greensmith, have released an open letter stating they will not cut down the trees.
“Over the past few days we have been overwhelmed with the agendas of council, politicians, protesters, and so on.
“We were quite normally private people but now we have been dragged into being public figures.”
“Let the trees stay including the kauri which we have been calling 500, and the rimu called 300. It doesn’t matter how old they are as they now need to stay. Some other trees might have to go – this is the compromise bit, but let’s keep it to a minimum.”
Mr Tavares has anger management issues, has been supported by the taxpayer since his arrival in this country and craves a richer lifestyle. The only way for a Greenie to get rich is to become a list MP - lots of dosh, no responsibility and very little work. This stunt puts him ahead of the long list of Waiheke Green Taliban rivals trying to get on the gravy train… or so he thinks. I’m not so sure. It could backfire on him rather as it did in Tassie. The Greens have only just removed that other Aussie import. The talk is that if they want to be taken seriously as a political force they will have to ditch the more extreme nut-cases in their ranks, which lets out Cadbury's Islanders. This prank could leave Tavares out in the cold.
What he has done it raised the profile of my blog. I haven’t blogged for a week but yesterday my site got over 3500 hits thanks to the extensive quoting of Tavares rant about me by Whaleoil on his blog on Wednesday. Few read anything Tavares writes but tens of thousands read Whaleoil every day. Enough must have been tempted by Tavares nasty comments about me to have a look for themselves. Thanks Mickey boy. How I love the law of unintended consequences.