If you were a foreigner visiting New Zealand and you asked an ordinary Kiwi what side of the spectrum the National Party was on, you'd hopefully be told they're for less government, and lower taxes, and individual responsibility ovcer state control.
And if you were this same foreigner watching the news unfold today, you'd swear the person who told you that was a liar.
JESSICA I want to start off by asking you your
predecessor in a speech, Phil Heatley, said, 'I'm determined to ensure
the mining sector is not hampered by unsafe protest actions by a small
but vocal minority.' You've been working on this since taking over. What
are protesters in for?
SIMON So, that's right. So we are acting, and so two
offences are going to be put into the Crown Minerals Bill. Look, the
first of those is truly criminal offence. Effectively, what it says is
that it will be stopping people out there at deep sea, in rough waters,
dangerous conditions, doing dangerous acts, damaging and interfering
with legitimate business interests with ships, for example, seismic
ships, and what they're doing out there.
JESSICA These seem like very harsh penalties. Are you basically cracking down on protesters?
SIMON Look, I don't think so at all. This is not about
stopping legitimate democratic protest.
JESSICA But just not at sea?
SIMON Well, no, they still can, but the issue here is
we are clamping down on what I think should be seen as properly
dangerous, actually reckless, criminal behaviour-
JESSICA Don't we have the right to protest, though?
SIMON that's getting in the way of what someone else is legitimately doing.
JESSICA Don't we have a right to protest, though?
SIMON Absolutely, and properly viewed-
JESSICA Aren't we making it more difficult for people to do that?
SIMON No, I don't think so at all. There are a variety,
a plethora of ways that people can protest in this country. As I say,
if you have a beef with a particular minerals or oil and gas company,
you can do it outside their front door. You can do it anywhere in New
Zealand. Actually, you can still do it in the Exclusive Economic Zone,
but what you can't do is out in these rough, choppy seas, as we have
seen protesters do in relation to Petrobras in this country, go out
there and suit yourself in the freezing waters in front of these ships -
massive ships, small vessels, exceptionally dangerous. And I don't
SIMON Frankly, what's it about is stopping people
trying to stop other people going about their lawful business after they
have got a permit, gone through the hassle involved with that and are
doing something that actually is in the interests of New Zealanders.
JESSICA Isn't this just about putting commercial
interests, though, ahead of the rights of New Zealanders? We saw this-
the Government doing this with The Hobbit as well.
SIMON No, I don't think so at all. Look, I think what
you're seeing is a desire to ensure that really reckless, dangerous acts
out hundreds of miles from the shore don't happen. I don't think it's
on. I don't think most New Zealanders would think it on. They'd agree
with me, I think, that it should be treated as criminal behaviour.
JESSICA Don't you think a lot of New Zealanders would
agree, though, that people have a right to protest? Even if I'm not out
there with a placard, you still support people's right to be able to do
SIMON Absolutely, and I think, you know, that goes to
the heart of being a democracy. I believe that passionately. My point is
there are a huge variety of ways which New Zealanders can protest about
anything. I would never want to stop that, but what they can't do is
dangerously, recklessly interfere with other people's rights to go about
Oh, so it's simply about stopping dangerous protest out at Sea? Bullshit. Firstly, they're not "hundreds of miles from the shore", because if they were, New Zealand law wouldn't apply. They are less than 12 miles out.
Second, is Mr Crown Prosecutor proposing a law that essentially protects people from themselves? I bloody well hope not.
Finally, he mentions the word "plethora" quite often in this interview. That's handy, because there is a plethora of laws already in existence that can be used where people endanger others, whether at sea or on land. I'm sure a fancy Crown Prosecutor can get Crown Law to look them up for him. I'm also sure a fancy Crown Prosecutor will get advice from the Attorney-General on whether this law is inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. I'm looking forward to seeing that advice.
I thought his ban on magnets was bad enough. It seems that was just an entree.
God help us this Easter.
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