The company partially responsible for one of the worst oil spills in history has unfettered access to the New Zealand Parliament, warns Greenpeace.
The environmental organisation is calling on the new Government to end special treatment of corporate lobbyists at the Beehive.
Oil drilling giant, Anadarko, is among the corporations issued with parliamentary access cards that let them come and go as they please.
Greenpeace campaigner, Steve Abel, says representatives from one of the most polluting companies on the planet should at least have to go through parliamentary security.
“Citizens, not corporations, should be at the heart of governance,” he says.
Anadarko was fined $159 million for its involvement in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, one of the largest marine oil spills in history.
It’s also on the list of 100 companies that are responsible for 71% of global climate emissions since 1988.
The new Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, has announced he will be reviewing the list of access card holders over the coming month. Greenpeace has written a letter to Mallard asking him to end privileged access for corporate lobbyists.
Abel says Anadarko’s long and controversial history in New Zealand is a “clear example” of the consequences of an unequal balance of power between the public and corporate lobbyists.
“In response to extensive protest against deep sea oil drilling here in 2011 and 2012, the former National Government pushed through the Crown Minerals Amendment Act 2013, dubbed the ‘Anadarko Amendment’, which criminalised peaceful protest at sea,” he says.
“It was opposed by tens of thousands of people and several legal authorities, including former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and Sir Peter Williams QC.
“The law change became known as the ‘Anadarko Amendment’, because the Texan Oil Giant was one of the immediate potential beneficiaries of the legislation. “
In late 2013 and early 2014, Anadarko conducted two high risk exploratory oil drills in New Zealand’s deep sea.
Abel says the new Government now has an opportunity get rid of the hangover of corporate access to Parliament and start afresh.
“It’s an affront to our democracy that a small minority of corporate lobbyists are given more access and power to decision makers than civil society representatives or ordinary New Zealand citizens,” he says.
“Oil giants like Anadarko are destroying our climate and threatening our oceans and coastlines with oil spills. They’re modern-day villains, yet get the right to skip security when they go into our Parliament to lobby for their dirty industry.”
Other lobby groups and companies with access cards include Fonterra and Federated Farmers.
Abel says Fonterra should have no more access to our politicians than civil society representatives or ordinary New Zealanders wanting to swim in clean rivers.
“The time for cleaning up New Zealand’s rivers has come, yet Fonterra and Federated Farmers, already with huge influence to lobby vigorously against any laws which make them accountable for their climate emissions and water pollution, have special access cards to Parliament,” he says.
“We hope that the new Government will seize the opportunity to end this undemocratic practice and cancel lobbyists’ parliamentary access cards.”