Today, the Herald trotted out a piece based on some polling they’ve done, about the recent crackdown on protesting at sea. We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about the responses people were offered, and the actual question. But it’s fair to say that the responses were hugely different to independent polling we commissioned.
This new law was introduced on Easter Sunday. A good day, some might say, to announce something which you thought might draw some criticism, or be unpopular. This new law was also introduced without parliamentary scrutiny, and had to be rammed through Parliament without public consultation. It doesn’t really look like Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges thought it would be well received. That’s probably because it breaches international law, human rights, and undermines our democracy.
And, for once, it looks like Simon was right. The law change was quickly opposed by almost 45,000 kiwis, including New Zealander of the year Dame Anne Salmond and former PM Sir Geoffrey Palmer.
This crooked way of law making has become the signature of John Key’s government, and is eagerly embraced by career politicians like Simon. It looks certain that this draconian piece of legislation was cooked up in shady meetings between National MPs and oil lobbyists.
Originally denying having contact with oil companies about the controversial Crown Minerals Act to ban protest at sea, secret papers later revealed that he had met Shell just weeks before announcing the amendment. This prompted the Labour Party to conclude that it ‘appears that Mr Bridges misled Parliament’. Yes, indeed it does.
So if the Minister thinks it’s such a popular piece of legislation, then he should clear his name and release all the details of the meetings that government held behind closed doors. It’s the only way the public can have confidence that he’s not hiding anything from them.
After all, the government’s first responsibility lies in serving the interests of ordinary New Zealanders, not overseas oil companies.
It’s that simple, Simon. Because if you don’t release all the minutes and documents of that meeting you had with Shell, someone might just start saying your pants are on fire.