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Brower high country 'give-away' claim discredited

Category: Perpetual leases
Download: Evans-Quigley_Report.pdf (266,863 Bytes)

In this independent report,  Victoria University Professors of Economics Neil Quigley and Lewis Evans say claims made in a report earlier this year by Fulbright scholar Dr Ann Lacey Brower that the South Island high country is being "given away" and "privatised" by the government are entirely unfounded.

Forest & Bird used Brower\'s flawed conclusions to underpin a major campaign alleging that tenure review was biased in favour of farmers, and that conservation and the public were being short-changed.

The High Country Accord commissioned Quigley and Evans to critique the Brower report after she had declined to change its contents, despite being advised of major errors.  

Evans and Quigley say Brower\'s errors include incorrect assumptions about the property transactions which take place during tenure review, an incorrect understanding of the property rights of lessees and the Crown, and a lack of understanding of the nature of a pastoral lease and the value of the lessees interest in it.

\"Brower appears not to understand that the rights of a pastoral lessee are very different from the rights of a person \'renting\' property as that term is popularly used.\"

They say Brower is also incorrect to claim that the Crown had retained valuable property rights in pastoral leases.

\"The Crown has no rights to do anything with the land except collect rent, and adjudicate on any activities that are not permitted under the lease.\"

\"Unless Brower can show that some lessees have terminated their lease on review and handed use rights back to the Crown, then we have to assign a value of zero to the rights of the lessor aside from the value of the rent.\"

Quigley and Evans describe as \"entirely implausible\" Brower\'s claim that the Crown has gifted valuable property rights to leaseholders during tenure review.

\"She completely misinterprets the available data ... and makes a series of claims about the outcome of the process that are entirely erroneous.\"

\"Our analysis ... makes it implausible that the tenure review process has resulted in any substantial over-payment by the Crown.\"

They say that Brower did not consider the social benefits of land tenure reform, which they believe will be substantial.