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Democracy for sale

Written By: - Date published: 8:49 am, April 2nd, 2013 - 43 comments
Categories: activism, Conservation, democracy under attack, democratic participation, national - Tags: , , ,

New Zealand is a country with a proud history of activism and protest. First country in the world where women won the vote. The anti-apartheid protests around the 1981 Springbok tour. The anti nuclear protests. The massive march down Queen St that got the Nats to drop their stupid plan to mine in protected national parks.

The National Party (like their leader who can’t remember 1981) has never been on the right side of this history. They’re making that clear again with new rules that target protests at sea:

Protesters targeting offshore mining structures and vessels may face harsher penalties if a Government proposal is passed into law.

Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges announced on TV ONE’s Q+A this morning proposed changes to the Crown Minerals Bill to protect offshore petroleum and minerals exploration. The changes would introduce two new offences to deter protesters from interfering with “legitimate exploration”, Bridges said.

The offences include:
– Up to 12 months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000, or in the case of a body corporate, up to $100,000, for intentional damage to and interference with mining structures and vessels, and interference with their activities being carried out under the Bill.
– A fine of up to $10,000 for strict liability of contravention of a notified minimum non-interference distance (up to 500 metres within a ship).

Greenpeace has protested, and pointed out that no submissions will be called for. Labour calls it a ” massive over-reaction” and says that “the Government is kow-towing to foreign multi-national companies ” (Phil Twyford has a short post up with a couple of good images). The Green’s Gareth Hughes is even pithier, calling this the “Petrobras law”. Naturally the Nats claim that

“This is not about stopping legitimate, democratic protest. There are a range of ways people can protest – at a company’s front door, on the street, actually still out at sea.

“We are clamping down on what should be seen as dangerous, reckless, criminal behaviour that’s getting in the way of what someone else is legitimately doing.” Bridges denied the offences were aimed at hindering Greenpeace protesters, who have targeted oil ships in New Zealand waters in the past.

So why no public submissions then? The Nats can deny it all they like, but it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck. They have sold favours to Hollywood, to Sky City, to Rio Tinto (work in progress), and now it looks very much like they’re selling us out on our right to protest too. Time for The Herald to start a new campaign – how about “Democracy for Sale”…

43 comments on “Democracy for sale ”

  1. infused 1

    This isn’t 1981, the worlds moved on. Good to see. And how are they selling your right to protest? That’s retarded. Go protest outside their HQ.

    • Protesting isn’t going to bring any meaningful change, there are way too many vested interests here.
      If you want it done right, do it yourself. This applies as much to democracy as anything else.

      • muzza 1.1.1

        Have to agree, with the apathy/ignorance in NZ, there is no way of stopping whats going on!

        It-Is-Over!

      • Colonial Weka 1.1.2

        “Protesting isn’t going to bring any meaningful change, there are way too many vested interests here”

        So was it the wish-fairy that granted all the meaningful change in NZ that we had up until now thought was the result of protest?

        • Ugly Truth 1.1.2.1

          I assume you wrote ‘thought’ when you meant ‘that’.
          Law is the relationship between cause and effect. The real cause is intent, protest is a visible effect of that intent. Law is very different to political acts.

    • Ed 1.2

      Petrobras headquarters is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. How many protesters do you expect to accompany you, infused?

      • Populuxe1 1.2.1

        Petrobras is partly owned by the Brazilian state, so you could try the Embassy of Brazil, New Zealand Wool House, 10 Brandon Street, Level 9 5432 Wellington. Or is that too obvious?

  2. freedom 2

    no, you’re right it is not 1981, it is looking much more like 1787

    • infused 2.1

      Far better ways of getting your message across than sitting in the sea blocking ships going about lawful business.

      Out of interest, if that ship had accidently hit and killed someone, whos fault would it be?

      • freedom 2.1.1

        like all events that result in death, the individual circumstances, the Coroner, the ever helpful Police and if needed a Court of Law would decide. In this case it would also involve the Maritime Safety Authority, so guess we are covered then .

        and consider that NZ does not have a large history of protesters dying or even being injured (outside of the actions of the ever-helpful Police that is)

        • Murray Olsen 2.1.1.1

          Or the actions of the French secret service. Remember that they killed a Greenpeace member in Auckland harbour.

          • freedom 2.1.1.1.1

            Hi Murray, in the interest of accuracy (that infused or another of the same ilk would no doubt have nitpicked upon by saying there are only 998 angels on the head of that pin) I excluded that death as it was in ‘down-time’ and was not technically involved in a protest action at the time of the aforementioned murder, although it could be argued that the vrey existence of GreenPeace and other formal associations are in a state of permanent protest

      • One Tāne Huna 2.1.2

        “Far better”? Says who? Sounds like unsubstantiated wingnut drivel to me.

        Your rank hypocrisy is showing, by the way. Who the fuck are you to tell people how to behave, Nanny Infused?

        • infused 2.1.2.1

          I’m not telling you, the govt is.

          • One Tāne Huna 2.1.2.1.1

            Right, so when it’s freedom of association and expression, it’s fine, but if they tell you what lightbulb to use you start wetting your pants. Fucking hypocrite.

            • infused 2.1.2.1.1.1

              Yawn. If you can’t see the difference, you’re a moron – or just blatantly choosing not to.

              • One Tāne Huna

                What Tim says below: you openly support these filth, but keep on raising the double standard, wingnut.

              • felix

                Holy fuck, infused actually said yes, lightbulbs are a bigger deal than freedom of association and expression.

                Good to have that out in the open I guess.

          • Tim 2.1.2.1.2

            The government is telling us – you’re simply advocating for that government. Mmmm, sounds like a big cop out to me.
            AND
            “Out of interest, if that ship had accidently hit and killed someone, whos fault would it be?”
            …..Justice Woodhouse would have had it that it would be a no fault situation (IF indeed they were accidentally killed), except we all know that ACC has been transformed into a vehicle for corporate egos and pockets over the years.

  3. Smith 3

    You can still protest up and down the length of our country but you can’t trespass their ships at sea – seems fair enough.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      So you’re allowed to protest everywhere except where they are? How is that fair or effective?

      • freedom 3.1.1

        sounds like G20* Security operations page 1.

        * + every other bunch of business-first sycophants that call themselves the leaders of today’s world

      • Smith 3.1.2

        It’s fair because nobody’s democratic right to peaceful process is being impinged upon, despite typically emotive attempts to suggest otherwise. You can protest outside Parliament, but not inside it, just as you can make all the noise you want on the public property outside the Rt. Hon. John Key’s Auckland fortress – but not in his bedroom. Shouldn’t make much of a difference so long as your argument is clear and your points sound.

        The right to cause célèbre isn’t even taken away – anyone who wants to be really disruptive can do so regardless of the penalties as their heft will inevitably attract more attention.

        edit: Speaking of G20 – you’ll note said peaceful protesters are respectfully requested to keep their sticks and molotov cocktails outside the summit chambers.

        • freedom 3.1.2.1

          your ignorance of G20 protest actions is underwhelming in its predictability

          like so many, you let a few actions by [exposed] provacateurs blinker you from the hundreds of thousands of concerned people who protested peacefully, despite being cordoned over two kilometers from the Summit and consequently far away from the MSM you suckle so faithfully

        • Colonial Weka 3.1.2.2

          “It’s fair because nobody’s democratic right to peaceful process is being impinged upon,”

          You’ve obviously missed the point of the legislation. It’s a special law for protestors. Otherwise NACT would be happy to just use existing criminal law to prosecute protestors that step over a line.

          btw, it’s not illegal (yet) to protest in non-peaceful ways, unless you break the law in doing do.

      • Populuxe1 3.1.3

        Actually I would think it would make it a damned site easier to get media attention if you didn’t protest out at sea where most media agencies these days lack the resources to get to.

    • Smith… let me translate what you’re written into what you really mean; “you can protest as much as you like until the cows come home (where do cows go?!) – but don’t you dare make it effective or anyway challenging of the status quo. The Dollar takes precedence over Democracy.”

      I hope I’ve got that right?

      • Smith 3.2.1

        About as good as most internet translations I suppose. For what it’s worth, I happen to think that we’re more than capable of having a national dialogue, when it comes to the future of resource extraction in this country, without having any form of development whatsoever in that regard vetoed by whoever can string themselves and a couple of boats together.

        Put it this way – in this digital day and age you have a hell of lot more to be worried about if you’re not capable of making a convincing argument without recklessly endangering yourself and others in the process.

        Maybe you’re old-fashioned like that Frank. Well, go for your life, repressive penalties handed down by the state never stopped any revolutionary worth his/her salt.

    • felix 3.3

      “You can still protest up and down the length of our country but you can’t trespass their ships at sea – seems fair enough.”

      Yeah, if you start from the premise that the role of the state is to protect international capital from NZ citizens I suppose it does.

      If you start from almost any other premise it falls down pretty quick though.

  4. David 4

    The great irony is that in both the case of apartheid in South Africa and Nuclear Free New Zealand, it’s been a National Prime Minister who has has been congratulated for our stand – Jim Bolger when Nelson Mandela visited and John Key by President Obama at the nuclear disarmanent conference. The even greater irony in the latter being that National would absolutely love to let nuclear armed warships into New Zealand again.

  5. Tigger 5

    Perhaps the Nats would rather we started protesting their responsible Ministers wherever, whenever…

  6. Jenny 6

    Why the rich and powerful can’t stand democratic protest.

    And why they celebrate its suppression.

    Bob Jones, an ex-boxer and stand over merchant, noted for his misogynist and right wing views, first rose to riches on the backs of the Pacific immigrant rental boom of the ’70s.

    In support of the government’s new legislation attacking the right to protest, this self made millionaire has penned an attack against protesters and protest.


    Bob Jones: “Protests on streets the height of stupidity”

    Jones begins his mocking diatribe against protesters by claiming that protest doesn’t work.

    He wishes!

    If Jones truly believed his own propaganda, he wouldn’t bother to champion laws to suppress protest.

    That protest doesn’t work is an old lie often told and spread by the rich and powerful and the authorities in the hope that people will accept it as the reality, and so not do it.

    Why do the marchers bother? No one – neither politicians nor the public – ever takes the slightest bit of notice.

    Bob Jones

    What’s the track record that exposes this as a deliberate misrepresentation of the reality?

    The campaign against the Aramoana smelter. Result: Stopped the smelter dead in its tracks,

    The Bastion Pt protest. Result: Ngati Whatua won the disputed land back as well as getting monetary compensation,

    The Maori Land March. Result: Their protest slogan “Not one more acre” led to the creation of the Maori Land Court,

    The 1981 anti-aparthied protests. Result: No racially selected team every toured NZ again. And the All Blacks never toured their either until Apartheid was dismantled.

    The anti nuclear ship protests. Result: New Zealand becoming nuclear free.

    Most recently and hardest to ignore, the schedule 4 protests. Result: A humiliating Government backdown.

    The East Coast deep sea mining protests. Result: The departure of Petrobras from New Zealand waters and resulting from this the legislation to stop “protest which doesn’t work”

    And for many older Kiwis the anti Vietnam War protests.
    New Zealand had the highest number of protesters against the Vietnam war per head of population in the world. The Australian Government were able to bring in conscription for this war, but due to the strength of the the New Zealand protest movement the government here were never able to. In fact compulsory military training, which was seen as precurser to full conscription had to be abandoned. When protesters blocked the train tracks to Papakura military training camp and the conscripts got out and fraternised with the protesters confiding their fears that they were being readied for conscription to Vietnam.

    Protest doesn’t work, my eye.

    So from his jaundiced eye, how did Bob Jones see these turbulent years?

    In the late 1970s, large futile marches inevitably led at the front by soaking-wet clergyman and even more saturated, wispy bearded men with babies strapped to their front became voguish in Wellington, protesting about something or other and always, always ignored.

    And what does Bob Jones think, does work in influencing government?

    Bob Jones answer is very revealing.

    Governments often change their mind on policy announcements thanks to well-argued newspaper editorials or a quiet approach to ministers pointing out why a proposal is not actually a good idea.

    Bob Jones

    So if you own an influential major news paper. Or belong to a powerful business lobby group with their own security swipe cards for entry into parliament. I am sure it is nothing to drop in to to make a “quiet approach to Ministers”.

    What’s stopping you?

    Don’t protest. Become a multimillionaire, own a $billion dollar news paper, or TV Station. Get your own swipe card to parliament. Invite MPs, and in particular Ministers, to Business Breakfasts and Power lunches and dinner engagements, for that “quiet approach”, that points out why some proposals are not a good idea, while others are. Get your PA to schedule this immediately.

    You don’t do this already?

    Shame on you. You are obviously “anti-democratic”.

    • Jenny 6.1

      Notice that Bob Jones gets quite shrill in claiming protest is “always, always ignored”Repeating his earlier claim that:

      No one – neither politicians nor the public – ever takes the slightest bit of notice.

      Don’t believe it. Bob Jones doesn’t.
      Nor does the Government.
      Neither do the oil companies and the coal companies and all the other rapacious polluters.

      This is why they are doing all they can to suppress protest with the full force of the state. Even giving the armed forces the legal power to detain civilians. A recipe for abuse if there ever was one.

      It won’t work.
      People will always protest injustice no matter what the personal cost.
      Repression always fails in the end.

  7. xtasy 7

    NZ is a little NATZIE government ruled society now. Sadly too many are feeling overly humble weak, meak, powerless, divided, despise their different race neighbour, have grudges against too many, and ultimately fall for the little agenda, of me first, me now, me all the way, fuck off, here come I, it is me, the road rager, the boy racer, the drunk lout shouting out loud, the me, me and fuck the rest mentality.

    That is the sick state NZ is in, in general. Not all, for sure, but damned too many. There is NO cohesion and community spirit anymore, where it may exist to some level, also others that do not fit the common “character” are shut out.

    It is back to back country mentality, I see and hear it every day, I see it on the news, I see and hear narrow mindedness, pettiness and envy, lots of the latter.

    NO, no, no, that is wrong, not right, punish harder, chase them, deal to em, bad, bad and worse, that is now so common in people’ s thoughts. Partly one may understand, given so much goes wrong, but do people take the time to think more objectively, to reflect, to try and understand why the rat race so many are in now, making them hate the ones “not pulling their weight” (sick, disabled, unemployed and sole parents), is actually happening. Does anybody understand that the social division, the hardship imposed, the hatred and division generated by ill-fed media, is actually responsible for DESTROYING NZ society?

    I see a lot, I see few understand, actually short circuit and just go rampant on hate and envy, not seeing the whole picture.

    NZ has lost democracy, as media, Parliament and other institutions do not bother to uphold it anymore, and the common people feel so powerless and insignificant, all they do is be cynical, turn away, escape into privacy and dare not to take any stand anymore.

    It is a destroyed society, dismembered, castrated, disempowered, brainwashed and worse of all totally divided. NZ is DEAD, no longer the shining beacon it may in parts at least in the past have been. It is nothing but a kind of manipulative, modern day Dictatorship of NZ Aotearoa, which most do not even realise as such, it is the “perfect dictatorship”, under control by an elite and their servants, who will do all to keep you DOWN and POWERLESS!

    IT IS YOUR CALL TO REALISE THIS AND TAKE ACTION, NEW ZEALENDERS! NOW!!!

  8. tracey 8

    Infused, most kiwis arent bob jones and cant just have a quiet word with a minister about how wrong they are.

  9. Descendant Of Sssmith 9

    Having had a quiet word with MP’s over the years I’m quite confident it doesn’t work.

    You have to be pulling the purse strings as well.

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