PM Sends Military Against Peaceful Protest

Press release - April 12, 2011
Ōpōtiki, Tuesday 12 April 2011: The united front of te Whānau ā Apanui, Greenpeace and the flotilla opposing deep sea oil drilling is holding its position in the Raukūmara Basin as the HMNZS Pūkakī arrived after eight days of surveillance by an Airforce Orion.

“The Government is putting the rights of an international oil company ahead of those of local people who are defending the waters that have sustained them for generations,” says Greenpeace climate campaigner Steve Abel.

“The Government owes Petrobras an apology because they have been led to believe they would have carte blanche in our waters with no liability if things go wrong. In fact, Petrobras were invited here before anyone had asked the people who will be most affected by the drilling if they wanted this risky industry in their waters. The answer is clearly ‘No’,” said Abel.

In response to Government framing of the issue as economy versus environment Abel says; “In a world moving away from fossil fuels and turning to new clean energy alternatives, we need clean economic thinking that prioritises investment, creation and uptake of renewable energy technologies. It’s not a question of no economic activity as the Government is falsely trying to portray it, but of what kind. Investing in very hard-to-get-at-oil with real risks to our existing economy, little return, and no safety net if things go wrong, is not smart economics at all.”

The US Gulf of Mexico spill cost the US economy US$26 billion – and counting.
“New Zealand is in no position to deal with an oil blowout anywhere near that scale.

“This is very much about jobs and economy and that is exactly what we are defending – the future of the fishing industry and tourism but also the multi-billion dollar value of investing in clean energy development that the world so urgently needs.

“Given what is going on in the world: climate change, upheaval in oil producing countries, we need to advance clean, secure energy not dirty and risky energy sources. That’s where future jobs and a sustainable economy lies.

“The ocean and these coastlines are the New Zealand economy- they are also our way of life and they are a national treasure, too valuable to risk for oil money.

“We are very concerned at the use of military services to intervene in this protest and very concerned that the Government is meddling in police matters – apparently without a complaint from the company concerned.

“With all the industry and Government concern over safety and the danger to people protesting, it begs the question: Who is really putting our marine environment at risk? It is not people protesting. It is the Government.”

For more information contact:

Steve Abel Greenpeace Climate Change Campaigner in Auckland on: 021 927 301

Dean Baigent-Mercer Greenpeace Communications Officer on: 0226 730 572