Monday, January 11, 2010

Is it just me...

or do the comments on Peter Spencer seem to be more based on ideology than anything else.

Michael Duffy went in to bat for him in Saturday's SMH. I don't quite get what the relevance is of Spencer's history in PNG and all that is, except that it gives an alternative explanation for the property being over-run by native tress to that he gave in Court.

In court he claimed that the over-run was due to the land management practices of the ACT Government. But in the Duffy article it seems to be because he left the land unmanaged while he did other things.

You know, down in the city we have endless arguments about people who don't maintain their houses and land properly. Today Tonight especially should be aware of this because they do all the shows on it. But we are meant to feel sorry for a landowner who decided not to maintain his paddocks and then complains when he can't re-clear them.

Perhaps the "property rights" group here is also unaware of all the laws on rights-of-way and the fact that if you don't stop people crossing your land, after a certain point the people who have been crossing have a right-of-way to keep doing so.

The labelling of which Government etc is also strange. Some commentators on the Duffy article get angry because they tink it is a Labor government action, but others want to claim the action should be against the Feds not the States because the Feds induced the states to pass the laws. In that latter case it would b a Howard Government law.

What we do know is that Spencer has been offered $2M for his land, and he owes his family $1M for the bank loans they paid out for him. That would leave him with $1M. We don't know how much he invested, but he is certainly not being left destitute.

We also keep hearing about the idea that the purchase price has been based on the value of the land after the passing of the native vegetation legislation, and the implication is the land was worth more when it could be/was cleared. But I haven't seen anywhere a report on the actual difference between the two. All I have seen is the comments in both the Duffy article and the earier Oz article that the land that now can't be cleared was marginal farming land at best. In other words, the gap between the two valuations is probably three tebths of stuff all - especially since you'd have to discount the other price by the cost of re-clearing.

If people really think there is a property rights issue here, then call on an inquiry into whether we need a national property right protection from the action of the States in our constitution. Or better, let's just solve it with that other wonderful idea - abolish the states.

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