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Massive Police Bill For Port Dispute

Nelson MP Nick Smith is angered at the huge cost for police, arising from the Waterfront Workers Union protest over the past four months that has totalled $635,557 in Nelson, $8,225 in Timaru and $21,682 in Bluff.

"This is an outrageous waste of police resources. People should not need police escorts to get to work and go about their lawful business. If the Waterfront Workers Union believes any party is acting illegally they should go to Court. If the law is the problem they should focus their attention on lobbying the Government for a law change. The ongoing protests and intimidatory behaviour is irresponsible.

"With these sorts of costs it is totally understandable that police have tried to down-scale their operation. The tragedy is that as soon as this occurred, the watersiders union saw the opportunity to up the ante and start harassing Mainland staff again. Police have no choice but to have an ongoing role if protestors are going to trespass onto the wharf, disrupt ship loading and throw eggs at workers who are just trying to do their job.

"The responsibility for this expensive fiasco rests with the Government. Alliance Ministers and Labour MPs have cynically come to Nelson encouraging the watersiders protest, despite the fact that it is their employment law under which Carter Holt Harvey has been perfectly entitled to contract the work to Mainland Stevedoring.

"The Labour-Alliance Government must either change the law or insist that the watersiders comply with the law as it stands. The current impasse is just wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I will again be asking Police Minister George Hawkins to compensate the Tasman Police District for this huge cost. There is no way a $635,000 cost can be absorbed without other parts of police work in the region being severely compromised.

Dr Smith also called on Labour Minister Margaret Wilson to release the mediators report so the dispute might be brought to a conclusion.

Ends


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