Bridges’ protest ban an over-reaction

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

The Government’s decision to ban protesting within 500m of commercial vessels in NZ’s Exclusive Economic Zone is a massive over-reaction and yet another example of National kowtowing to foreign multi-national companies says Labour.Moana MACKEY

Energy and Resources Spokesperson

31 March 2013

MEDIA STATEMENT

Bridges’ protest ban an over-reaction

The Government’s decision to ban protesting within 500m of commercial vessels in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a massive over-reaction and yet another example of National kowtowing to foreign multi-national companies says Labour’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Moana Mackey.

“Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges told media this morning that he had been approached by the industry to make this law change. He needs to tell the New Zealand public which companies asked for this change and whether any deal was done in exchange for investment in oil and gas exploration.

“Mr Bridges needs to accept that it is his Government’s behaviour, in relation to deep sea oil and gas exploration, that has inflamed the issue.

“Time and time again, National Ministers and MPs have refused to front-up  to communities and address local concerns in this sector. The Government has pushed ahead with granting permits against the wishes — and often without even informing affected communities– and have put in place incredibly weak legislation regulating the activity in the EEZ.

“Ironically it looks like there will now be tougher regulation for protestors than for prospectors in our EEZ.

“Protestors take to the sea when they feel that they cannot get action through any other means – whether it be anti-whaling, anti-nuclear, or opposing deep sea oil drilling. Of course the safety of all involved must be paramount, but there are other ways this can be dealt with.

“As the Minister well knows, Justice Woolford recently ruled in the High Court that while the Maritime Transport Act and the Crimes Act do not explicitly say New Zealand law applies to ships outside the territorial zone, international maritime law requires it. He says that the Maritime Transport Act applies by necessary implication in accordance with New Zealand’s international law obligations.

“He goes on to say that there should be an expressed provision in the Maritime Transport Act stating that the Act as a whole applies beyond the territorial sea.

“The reality is this isn’t about ‘safety’ as the Minister claims. It’s about sending a strong message to mining companies and stopping all protest activities – not just those which are reckless or dangerous.

“This is a complete over-reaction from a Government desperate to see its plans for the expansion of oil and gas exploration succeed because it knows it has no plan B. National has put all its economic development eggs in this one basket, and there is nothing it will not sacrifice – the environment, New Zealand’s clean, green brand and now Kiwi’s democratic rights to protest – in order to advance that agenda,” Moana Mackey said.

ENDS

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