Right to protest wrong to cost

22/12/2011

The Court has granted Auckland City Council’s  application for a permanent injunction to end the occupation of Aotea Square.

Andrew Geddis explains the difference between this application and previous moves to move on the protesters:

. . . the Councils (both in Dunedin and Auckland) have done a better job of specifying exactly what their reasons are for wanting to see the Occupy encampments ended. There is less emphasis on the unsightliness or inconvenience they pose, and more on the actual physical damage to communal property and the intrusion they are having on others’ legitimate use of the public space.

Once the issue goes beyond the Councils simply seeking to enforce their rules just because they are their rules, and rather becomes Councils seeking to protect the broader common good against harm by a few (albeit well-intentioned) individuals, then you’ve got a balancing exercise that is worth the name. . .

The right to protest isn’t unlimited and in this case has come up against the principle that it’s wrong when it imposes costs on, or restricts the freedom of, other people or organisations.

 

 


Property rights vs BORA

09/11/2011

Property rights have met BORA in Dunedin’s Octagon and property rights have lost.

Police have refused to enforce the Dunedin City Council’s trespass notice against the protesters in the Octagon:

Police had been considering their legal position for the past week, but Insp Sparrow yesterday concluded the trespass notices did not meet “the test of balancing the rights and freedoms of all parties”.

What about the rights of other people to use the green space being occupied by the protesters?

What about the council’s right to object to rubbish and human waste on public space?

What about the rights of the council to determine what can happen on the land it owns and is responsible for on behalf of the whole community?

Mayor Dave Cull is considering other legal options.

He told the Otago Daily Times he was “disappointed” at the time police had taken to reach their conclusion, and by their decision not to enforce “legitimate” council bylaws.

“We are completely at a loss to know where the lack of enforceability might begin or end.

“It makes one wonder just what the police will enforce in our community and what they won’t. Is it up to them to decide what the law is, or can we rely on our laws and bylaws?

“It leaves us wondering, I guess, whether we can rely on backup for the community’s interests.”

The council isn’t saying the people can’t protest, it’s just saying they can’t protest in this manner in this place.

The ODT opines:

The police’s reluctance to act on the trespass order raises an interesting question. If they take no action against breaches of the reserves and camping control bylaws, might they also hold back on enforcing breaches of other bylaws?

Indeed, which would they uphold and which would they not?

And what would happen if the protest was taking place on private land?

Property rights aren’t absolute. But are they  all, including the right to exclusive use and peaceful enjoyment of your own land, subservient to the Bill of rights?


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