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May 6, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Laying Down the Law

The National Government has about as much success with the environment as Taylor Swift has with relationships—the party policy assumes that growing more trees is inconsistent with growing the economy.

Greenies throughout New Zealand have refused to share the love with Simon Bridges lately, ever since he introduced an amendment to a Crown Minerals Bill that created new penalties for protests at sea.

The new law (the Bill was assented to on 19 April) makes it an offence to intentionally interfere with a ship, or to come within a zone of 500 m surrounding a vessel that is engaging in oil prospecting, exploration, or mining. It also gives enforcement officers broad powers to enter onto ships (even if they aren’t within the prohibited zone) and to arrest people without warrants.

The Government says that this “fills a gap” in the existing law, and that protests at sea can cause significant health and safety risks for others. The opposition argues that the Rainbow Warrior was bad-ass and that this is just another example of the Government selling out to big companies (remember when our employment law was overhauled just to please Warner Brothers?)

The law, dubbed the “Petrobras law” or the “Anadarko amendment” after two large oil corporations, has pissed off more than just the greenies, though. It was introduced as a Supplementary Order Paper, which means that it came in after the Select Committee and public consultation phases of the legislative process. Those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to be part of the National Party caucus had no idea that such a large change was going to be made to our law, and we had no opportunity to give them our two cents before the law was passed. Greenies and legal academics alike have criticised this law for its restriction on the right to protest. They say that the Government is more worried about making money by attracting foreign oil giants than protecting our civil and political rights.

The moral of the story is that the Government can basically do whatever it wants (which, if you’ve ever done LAWS213, you will be sick of hearing), leaving the greenies lying on the cold, hard ground.

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