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Govt Will Defeat Bill To Outlaw Nuke Shipments

29 May 2002

Greens Disappointed Govt Will Defeat Bill To Outlaw Nuke Shipments

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said she was saddened and disappointed that Labour and National together will today vote to defeat her bill which seeks to ban nuclear shipments from New Zealand's exclusive economic zone.

Ms Fitzsimons' private members bill builds on the Labour Government's 1987 Bill banning nuclear weapons, ships and power stations from New Zealand's land and waters. Ships carrying high level nuclear waste and nuclear fuels are included in the ban.

"I am most interested to see how Jim Anderton and the Alliance vote on this bill. When I first put the bill in the Parliamentary ballot in 1997 the Greens were a member of the Alliance group of parties and the bill had the full endorsement of the Alliance caucus.

"I would expect that Jim and his colleagues will continue to support it," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Since 1987 the nuclear threat has not gone away. In addition to more and more nuclear weapons owned by more and more states we now have the risks posed by shipping hazardous nuclear materials around the globe.

In 1997 the Pacific Teal passed through the Tasman Sea carrying radioactive waste. Another took this route in January 2001 carrying Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX). Two empty ships have just left Europe to collect a load of plutonium (MOX) from Japan which was rejected because British Nuclear Fuels Ltd falsified safety data.

These ships are expected to return via the Tasman Sea in July. These shipments are set to increase over the next few years. Since September 11 they pose an even greater danger.

"Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff said in Parliament today that the Government is relying on the provision of the International Law of the Sea which gives all ships, including those carrying nuclear weapons, fuel or waste, the right of 'innocent passage'.

"But the same international agreement gives states the right and duty to protect fisheries and the environment within their 200 mile exclusive economic zone. It is high time this contradiction was clarified," she said.

"Nuclear ships are not innocent and no ship that can threaten nuclear war or the integrity of our marine environment with a highly hazardous cargo has the right to be covered by this 'innocent passage' provision."

Ms Fitzsimons said Parliament has now passed up the opportunity to take another step towards nuclear disarmament and safe energy by putting a line in the sand for our nuclear-free future and supporting her bill.


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