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Govt All At Sea With Ban On Protest Vessels


Energy and Resources Spokesperson

Govt All At Sea With Ban On Protest Vessels

The National Government must re-think its ill-conceived ban on protesting against oil and gas exploration in the Exclusive Economic Zone in light of legal advice released today by Greenpeace, says Labour Energy and Resources Spokesperson Moana Mackey.

“The legal opinion provided by International and Environmental lawyer Duncan Currie raises serious concerns about consistency with New Zealand’s international obligations and the Bill of Rights Act.

“Because the Government chose to hold off announcing the proposed changes until the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill was reported back from the Select Committee, there has been no opportunity to check their consistency with our international obligations and the Bill of Rights. As the bill was only reported back on the 18th of March, we can only assume that this was done deliberately to avoid scrutiny.

“This is not about safety as the Minister claims. If it was then he would follow the advice of the High Court which recently ruled on this matter and simply extend the Maritime Transport Act, which deals with this issue in our territorial waters, into the Exclusive Economic Zone.

“And it would cover dangerous and reckless behaviour by all vessels, not just protest boats.

“How can the Minister’s proposed changes fix a legislative gap in our international obligations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLoS), as the Minister claims, if it doesn’t cover all vessels and all dangerous behaviour? UNCLoS has no special protections for deep sea drilling - which is what the Minister’s SOP targets.

“This is incoherent law-making at its very worst. Minister Bridges needs to come clean with the public about whether these provisions were requested by the industry in return for promised investment in deep sea oil and gas exploration.

“At the end of the day it is the Government’s own handling of controversial deep sea drilling proposals that has led to protest and public backlash. Trying to legislate away opposition to the Government’s plan to dramatically increase offshore drilling is a massive over-reaction,” says Moana Mackey.



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