Written By: - Date published: 8:49 am, April 2nd, 2013 - 43 comments
Categories: activism, Conservation, democracy under attack, democratic participation, national - Tags: democracy for sale, democracy under attack, greenpeace, petrobras
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.
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”…