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Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

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TPPA - No Deal

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NZ, Wellington, 7 March – It had been raining intermittently through the the morning, but as mid-day rolled into 1pm, the skies partially cleared and the sun broke through over a city glistening with rain drops. It was well-timed, as citizens began to assemble in down-town Midland Park. This was to be another expression of public anger against the so-called “Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement”.

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There were a wide variety of signs. Some professionally printed, others hand-made;

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anti-tppa-7-march-2015-wellington

 

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Entertainment was provided by the “Brass Razoo” band;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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This sign was especially clever;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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A panoramic view of the growing crowd;

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anti-TPPA - 7  march 2015 - wellington (85)

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The Green Party was very much in evidence;

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As were unions – for whom “free” trade agreements are never free and come at a cost of  lower wages, reduced conditions, job-insecurity, and lost jobs;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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The host and one of the organisors of the event was Dr Sandra Grey, National President of the Tertiary Education Union;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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One of the first speakers was Green Wellington city councillor, Sarah Free;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Ms Free said she was proud that Wellington City Council had joined with Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Palmerston North, and other local bodies around the country in opposing the secrecy of the TPPA. She said,

“We want trade but not at any cost. Not at any cost. We want to keep those freedoms we have at the moment, to look after our public health, to look after our working conditions in the city, to make sure that people and the environment are looked after. We actually value those freedoms.

We are here because we are nervous. Nervous what that government’s proposing to do with our sovereign rights. Nervous about the power they’re going to give to these faceless corporations.

It’s not a trivial nervousness that we have because these corporations under these investor state dispute clauses,  have sued governments. They have sued governments for things like trying to get plain [cigarettes] packaging in Australia. They’ve sued Ecuador for just changing the size; making the size of the health warnings on the cigarette packages a little bit bigger. They’ve sued Peru for trying to shut down the smelter that was causing lead poisoning in it’s communities.

In fact they scared the Peruvian government so much that they actually backed away from shutting down the smelter!”

She said that a mining company had sued the government of Ecuador after the company had been found to be breaking the law.

Ms Free said we had good cause to be scared of the investor state dispute clauses, which the American government had been very keen to implement after it’s North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994. She said that disputes were arbitrated in secret dispute-tribunals and had risen exponentially from 69 cases in 1999, to 370 in 2012.

Ms Free told the crowd, to loud cries of “boooo!”, that law suits were being under-taken by powerful corporations with vast sums of money, against democratically elected governments.

She asked those in the crowd to put their hands up if that made people nervous. A sea of hands shot up into the air.

Ms Free pointed out,

“It’s no coincidence that the power of the corporations has also coincided with the increasing inequality of wealth worldwide. I do not think this is a coincidence.

1% of the world’s population now controls 50% of it’s wealth. 85 individuals are wealthier than 3.5 billion people at the bottom end.

We’re talking about the modern day pharoahs, and their slaves.

We want trade, but not at any cost!

Our free trade agreement with China did include some clauses, and also included protection for our environment, our public health, and our Treaty of Waitangi.”

Ms Free wanted a clear message sent to the government, saying,

“Why should we settle for any less with the TPPA?”

Some more light mockery by clever citizens;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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It seems that our Dear Leader is developing something of a reputation for amnesia? Or selective recall?

Ms Grey told the crowd that 600 lobby groups, representing corporations, had looked at the draft TPPA – but the public have not been allowed the same right.

Ms Grey then introduced the next speaker, CTU National Secretary Sam Huggard;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Sam started by referring to the investor state dispute settlement mechanism as one of the nastiest aspects of the proposed agreement;

“It’s a provision which allows… companies and unaccountable offshore tribunals to sue our governments if they have the audacity to make changes which improve the wellbeing or the economic security or improve equality in our country. Why would our government or any government around the world want to sign up to an agreement which allows foreign companies to sue us if we have the audacity to improve our water quality or bring in other other environmental protections? Or if we wanted to improve our health policy settings to improve health and wellbeing? Or improve the economic security of people?”

Sam said that such investor mechanisms were creeping into trade agreements all around the world.

Sam told the crowd that French multi-national corporation, Veola, which managed Auckland’s rail transport network, was currently in the process of suing the Egyptian government. He said that Veola was suing the Egyptian government for increasing the minimum wage, and Veola was complaining that such a move would strip their ability to make profits.

He referred to tobacco giant, Phillip Morris, that was suing the Australian and Uruguan governments for introducing plain packaging for tobacco.

Sam said he wanted nothing to do with an agreement he considered “nasty and dodgy”,

I don’t want it signed in my name,” he told Wellingtonians, and those listening agreed noisily with his sentiments.

Young people, expressing their views;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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And other citizens, expressing their reservations, concerns, and outright opposition to an agreement which is being negotiated in secret, and which very, very few understand the consequences for our country, society, and economy;

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antiTPPA - 7  march 2015 - wellington (87)

 

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Sandra then welcomed Dr Gaye Keating to the microphone;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Dr Keating announced to the crowd that she was part of a new group that had recently been created,  ‘Doctors for Healthy Trade‘. She said that the group  was a response by doctors around the world, including the President of the World Medical Association, calling for more openness in trade agreements, such as the TPPA, before they were ratified. She said that there was concern amongst the medical profession that international trade agreements were fraught with major health risks, based on past, recent examples.

Dr Keating stated that there were fears, based on leaked draft versions of the TPPA, that plans were afoot to make medicines more expensive, to increase the profits of pharmaceutical companies. She said that this would be a problem not just for wealthy countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the US, but others such as Vietnam, who could not afford medical drugs “pushed up for extra American companies profits”.

Dr Keating raised the issue of safe workplace practices and condemned the TPPA for potentially undermining health and safety laws in New Zealand;

“New Zealand knows about the problems of mines which are not managed for the safety of their workers. It kills people. We also know about things like tobacco, which also, if it’s not managed properly, kills people.

From the leaked documents, it is really clear that the TPPA freezes a country’s ability to protect people. It puts in place in place options to protect profits. It does not put in place protections for people’s health.”

Dr Keating added that climate change was also a major health threat, saying;

“We need to be able to put in place protections, for safety in terms of greenhouse gases and safety for reacting to catastrophic climate change.”

She concluded by saying,

“So both for New Zealand and for the Pacific states whose islands are going to be drowned, and for the countries in places which are being mined, we need to take a responsible stance to protect health in New Zealand but also in other countries, we should not allow other countries to be bribed or bullied into laws that are bad for their health.”

After a brief discussion on the merits of marching to Parliament with impending bad weather approaching, the decision was made by the public to proceed with the march.

Well over a thousand people marched through Wellington, toward Parliament’s grounds. I saw no hecklers or anyone on the footpaths showing any antipathy toward the protestors. I did, however, witness people nodding and clapping;

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 TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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This citizen posed a very good question to our esteemed Prime Minister;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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New Zealanders, for the most part, are not stupid. With all the secrecy surrounding the TPPA, they smell a dead rat – not unlike the stench from  old, decaying road-kill at the height of our recent hot summer.

In this shot, you can see how far back the  march filled Lambton Quay, as protesting citizens neared the Cenotaph;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Meanwhile, Police presence during the march was minimal, except for traffic control. This lone constable appeared to be doing a good job, bringing traffic to a stop as  marchers walked safely through the intersection;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Yet again, someone in Parliament (the Speaker’s Office? Parliamentary Services?) had decided to keep the Main Gates closed and padlocked, forcing hundreds of citizens to squeeze through an open, narrow, side gate;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

 

Because, judging by the crowd-barriers erected in front of Parliament’s steps, I think we can safely assume that someone was expecting the protest;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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It took a bit longer, but the marchers – which had swelled in number since departing from Midland Park –  assembled in front of Parliament;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Though determined, it was a good-natured crowd and their was no hint of anything anti-social or potentially violent, arising. The revolution would not be held today.

This woman came forward from the crowd and volunteered to use sign-language to communicate with anyone who might be deaf, translating speakers’ speech into Sign;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Sandra introduced the first speaker to address the crowd, Todd Rippon, vice-President of Equity New Zealand (formerly Actor’s Equity);

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 TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Todd made an impassioned forceful statement which left listeners in no doubt where he stood on the TPPA;

“Performer’s lives are directly affected by trade agreements. In 1994, the National government signed a World Trade Organisation agreement which effectively made it illegal to have New Zealand content quota on our televisions.

So that basically meant that we gave free reign to broadcaster services internationally, to access to our televisions and screens. So the Labour government years later, led by Helen Clark, tried to support the production of film and television in New Zealand. She found she couldn’t. That government could not do a thing.

It was hamstrung by that stupid agreement. Because it was internationally illegal!”

The crowd reacted with anger, expressing their opposition to what they were hearing from Todd.

Cries of “Shame!” echoed around Parliament’s grounds.

“Now this TPPA, this agreement is like that World Trade Organisation [agreement] on steroids. Only this time it’s not going to affect performers, it’s going affect our education, it’s going to affect our healthcare, it’s going to affect agriculture… it will just go on and on and on!”

Todd was clear in what he wanted;

“I want our kids to be to able to decide their own futures. These trade agreements get locked in for decades. But our kids deserve better. I want our kids to  be able to see New Zealand content on their televisions and when they go see films. I think it’s apalling that we allow foreign corporations to decide what we see on our screens! We deserve better than that!”

Todd did not need a microphone and speakers when he forcefully thundered;

“I challenge our government to respect our culture! I challenge them to protect our culture! Signing the TPPA is nothing short of insanity! We must not sign it, Kia kaha!”

The crowd loved it and erupted with exuberant applause and cheering.

Amongst the crowd, another citizen held aloft a placard, with a very simple question  for our esteemed Prime Minister;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Sandra next introduced Jean Kahui, from Taranaki Whanau ki Te Upoko o Te Ika, and researcher on the process of fracking;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Jean told the crowd she has been researching the fracking of Aotearoa for the past. She said that her findings into fracking were alarming, and she could not stand by and allow government and Big Oil to pollute our children’s future. She warned that if the TPPA proceeded then so would fracking, warning that “our future will be dismal”.

“The French decided to ban fracking in 2011 and Big Oil did mount a challenge. But the highest court in France upheld the ban, cancelled the permits, and sent the frackers packing. Without a TPPA, we can do that too.”

There was enthusiastic applause when Jean said that.

Jean said that that the State of New York banned fracking on the strength of over 400 scientific studies. The over-riding concern was that the effects of fracking was not yet fully known.

Last week, she said, Tasmania renewed their ban on fracking for another five years. The Tasmanians were concerned at protecting their premium, safe, locally grown produce from potential contamination.

Jean said,

“The list of communities banning this extreme mining technique continue to grow while back here in ‘clean, green New Zealand’, our motto is clearly, “drill baby drill, and frack the hell out of every well”!”

Jean said that with the TPPA, a frack-free New Zealand is achievable.

Jean cut her speech short as  dark clouds loomed over-head, and drops of rain began to be felt.

Sandra introduced singer, Matt Pike, who belted out a stunning rendition of the ‘Twisted Sister‘ song “We’re not going to take it anymore” (with a few words altered to make it relevant to the day of protest);

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Like the 1960s song, “We shall overcome“,  it seems that “We’re not going to take it anymore” has become the protest anthem of the 21st century. The crowd joined in with gusto.

A protester taking a photo of me, photographing her. (I presented her with one of my business cards, giving her my details – some measure of reassurance that I was not SIS, GCSB, or some other National Party stooge.)

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Following Matt, Sandra introduced speakers from several political parties. She revealed that National had refused to send a representative to speak on behalf of their party. They “lacked the guts”, she said.

United Future had sent their “apologies” – to which the crowd reacted with derision.

As rain began to fall more heavily, Sandra announced that each speaker would be given a one minute maximum time limit to speak. It was now a  “race” to beat the on-coming “weather bomb” that had been predicted for the city.

First up, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati from the Mana Party and long-time opponant of the TPPA addressed the people;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Ariana also spoke with deep passion, expressing her deeply-held beliefs, that we needed elected representatives who looked after our rights and looked after our  country, and our future. She said,

“We will keep fighting because we are a movement of the people, for the people. Whether we have representation in Parliament or not!”

Ariana described the TPPA;

“This is a kind of agreement that you cannot give an inch, they will take a mile! Let’s keep this pressure on!”

She encouraged people to join the TPPA Action group, referring to the group’s Facebook page as a contact point.

Ariana spoke briefly, but the crowd loved her passion.

Following Ariana, was NZ First’s Fletcher Tabutean, looking very “corporate” in his suit;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Fletcher said the those who promoted the TPPA were compromising the sovereignty, people, and businesses of this country. He further explained;

“I have submitted on behalf of NZ First a Private Members Bill which will fight foreign corporate control.”

The crowd cheered wildly as he railed against Big Corporates, demanding that they not be permitted the right to sue the New Zealand government, nor take away our sovereignty.

“They shouldn’t even begin to think about it! They don’t belong here.”

Fletcher finished by poking fun at the government;

“John Key’s not listening to you, he’s not listening to you today. But I’ll tell you what… maybe his focus groups will hear you. Maybe his focus groups will go back to his office up there and say, ‘You might have something to worry about, John. There were a lot of people here today’.”

Many of the signs, like this one, were imaginative – very much showing the creativity of New Zealanders;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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The next speaker was James Shaw, from the Green Party. Like Ariana, he received a rapturous welcome from the crowd as well;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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James launched straight into a rousing attack on the TPPA;

“It’s because of you that we can defeat the TPPA. We can defeat the TPPA, we have done it on things like this before, and we can do it again. When we’ve got the strength of numbers, and you’re demonstrating that despite the weather. All over the country there are thousands of people marching against the TPPA today.”

“This is a Bill of Rights, not for you, not for our country, but for multi-national corporations. It goes against everything that is the sovereignty of this country. It goes against our environment, it means we can’t look after our healthcare, we can’t pass our own laws. We are ceding our sovereignty to foreign corporations.”

James stated that the Green Party would be supporting Fletcher’s bill through Parliament;

“We’re going to be doing everything we can and today we’re calling on the government to release the text. We’ve been calling on them to release the text for the last couple of years, to release the cost-benefit analysis. Because if it is so good, why is it so secret!”

He re-iterated that point,

“If it is such a good deal, why won’t they tell us what a good deal it is. The only thing that we know about this, is all of the risk.”

As the rain  began to pour more heavily, the last political party representative was Grant Robertson, from the Labour Party;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

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Grant first paid tribute to the Unions who had organised the protest, giving a “big shout-out” for their efforts.

Without any further mucking around, Grant got straight into giving the Prime Minister ‘a serve';

“I’ve got two messages, the first of those is to John Key. He’s had a lot to say in the last couple of weeks about people’s courage. Well, my message to John Key is get some guts and be upfront with New Zealand about the TPPA.

This is not a normal trade agreement. This is an agreement that goes behind the border to issues about what rights we have in that building [pointing to Parliament behind him] to make laws. John Key needs to understand that and come to New Zealand with the text and with the government’s negotiating position.

Otherwise he’s not acting in our name and he must be stopped from doing that.”

Grant continued;

“The second message I’ve got is this, if this agreement can’t guarantee our right to make laws in our interest; if this agreement can’t guarantee that PHARMAC continues to get cheap medicines for New Zealand; if this agreement can’t guarantee that people who have good ideas here can start businesses and don’t get shut down by the intellectual property law; if this agreement can’t do that, then my message to you from the Labour Party is, ‘No Deal’!”

And lastly, from Karen and her two courageous young daughters, Tracey and Katie. By now, the heavens could no longer hold back, and the weather bomb ‘exploded’ over the city, drenching people as the girls struggled to address the crowd;

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“Kia ora tatou, my name’s Tracey and I am 12 years old. Today I am here like you because I worry about what will happen to my and my friend’s future if the  TPPA is signed.”

Tracey said she understood that the trade deal was a bad idea for her and her future. She referred to the negotiations being held behind closed doors and doubted if they would be signed in our interests.

“I thought the whole idea of communities was to help one another and to work as a part of a team,”  Tracey said in her soft voice, hesitantly.

The crowd cheered and clapped.

“After all,” she continued, “isn’t this what we learn at school?”

Tracey was followed by her sister, Katie;

“Kia ora tatou, my name is Katie. I am 11 years old and like my sister I am very concerned about the TPPA. I have on many occassions handed out flyers and have chalked for people to google TPPA.”

There was loud cheering when Katie said that. She continued, hesitantly;

“Many people have seemed interested in what I have to say while handing out out leaflets. But there were also some people that had no interest or were quite appalled that I would do this. But why wouldn’t you if you knew that this was going to be signed in secrecy by our government?”

Both girls may be young in age, but they certainly knew the issues involved, and were probably more informed than the average New Zealander.

Finally…

Who is Anonymous?

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 TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - sovereignty - 7 march 2015

 

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None of us. All of us.

We are the people, Mr Key. Expect us.

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Contact

Facebook: TPPA Action Group

It’s our Future

Previous related blogposts

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 March 2015.

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Letter to the Editor: Is doing nothing really the best we can hope to achieve?!

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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From the Dominion Post, on 3 April, I was struck by the sheer head-in-the-sand attitude of this writer;

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letter to editor - bruce utting - dominion post - frank macskasy

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Sat, 03 May 2014 13:25:47 +1200
TO:     "Dominion Post" letters@dompost.co.nz 

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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When it comes to a "head in the sand" attitude, Bruce
Utting's letter (3 April) giving excuses why New Zealand
should do nothing to reduce our greenhouse gases emission,
is up there with the worst.

Utting said, "the fact is that no matter what we, in this tiny
country at the bottom of the world, do, or how much oil, gas
or coal we discover or use, it will not make the slightest
measurable difference to world climate..."

If we had adopted that defeatism in the 1970s, New Zealand
would never have led the world in stopping French atomic
bomb testing in the South Pacific.

If we had adopted that defeatist in the 1980s, New Zealand
would not have led the world in it's opposition to sporting
contact with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

New Zealand may be a small country, but our international
reputation is based on "punching above our weight" - not
hand-wringing and whining "woe is us, we're too small to
effect change".

Like the damage caused to the Ozone Layer by human-produced
chloroflourocarbons (phased out in 1992), unless we do our
part to reduce CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions, we
will continue to wreak havoc on our environment.


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

 

 

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References

Wikipedia: Cloroflourocarbons/Ozone Layer


 

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vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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= fs =

A message from Greenpeace about Simon Bridges

17 April 2014 2 comments

I received this email today, from Greenpeace;

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Hi Frank,

GREENPEACE

PHOTO: Simon Bridges

We’ve called for Simon Bridges to be sacked over his incompetent mishandling of the Energy and Resources portfolio. The final straw was him opening the Victoria Forest Park up for mining without even knowing it existed.

Within days over 15,000 people have joined the call but we’re missing your name!
 
CLICK HERE NOW TO TAKE<br /><br />
ACTION

Last time the Government did something this stupid 50,000 people marched up Queen Street and the decision to mine New Zealand’s best ‘Schedule 4’ conservation land was overturned. But it seems they’ve forgotten how strongly we feel about our wild places.

Under the Minister’s watch the Government has opened vast areas of New Zealand’s oceans to risky deep sea drilling, and now he’s opened our largest forest park to new mining and drilling.

The Minister’s obsession with oil at any cost is robbing New Zealanders of the cleaner smarter economy that could create tens of thousands of jobs and provide real prosperity.

The decisions we make about our energy choices today will determine the prosperity of our children’s future. It’s clear that Bridges is not up to the job. He’s making the wrong decisions on really important stuff and New Zealand deserves better. It’s time for him to go.

Use our quick easy form to send a message to the Prime Minister now

– Nick and the whole crew at Greenpeace

 

 

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I was only too happy to oblige, and added my name to the on-line petition.

I encourage you, reading this, to do likewise. (And pass it on to others!)

Simon Bridges’ incompetance is such that he is too dangerous to remain as a Minister of the Crown.

 

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National dance to corporate interests

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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= fs =

Letter to the Editor: National’s response to Green solar policy is sheer hypocrisy!

16 February 2014 3 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Letters to the Editor
DATE:    Sun, 16 Feb 2014 20:31:51 +1300
TO:     "NZ Herald" <letters@herald.co.nz> 

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The Editor
NZ HERALD

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The Green Party  policy, to fund the installation of solar
panels on 30,000 homes, is sheer common sense. As power
prices continue to rise and power supply is heavily reliant
on good rainfall in hydro-areas, anything that make homes
more self-sufficient is to be welcomed.

I was therefore stunned and flabbergasted to hear National's
energy minister, Simon Bridges, almost hysterical in his
condemnation of the Green Party,

    “Money doesn't grow on trees, even for the Greens.
This is just back to the old roll out the printing press and
start printing money from the Greens.”

Someone please take Mr Bridges aside and flash the National
Party's Energy Policy document in front of his baby-fresh
face and remind him that in 2009 National allocated $1
billion for home insulation, as part of an agreement with
the Green Party. In  a media release dated 16 May 2013,
Bridges waxed lyrical about the home insulation scheme,

    “Warmer, drier homes provide real benefits to New
Zealanders Mr Bridges says. As well as energy efficiency
gains, insulating homes reduces health risks such as
respiratory illnesses and serious diseases like rheumatic
fever. Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes will help boost
the health and well-being of New Zealanders living in poor
housing and is part of the Government’s response to child
poverty.”

So spending $1 billion  on home insulation is a good thing?

But lending for solar panels for our homes is bad?

Considering that the $1 billion spent by National was in the
form of non-recoverable grants (up to $1,500 per home),
whilst the Greens are talking about low-interest loans, it
occurs to me that the Greens are more fiscally conservative
than the money-splurging National Party, who waste
tax-dollars like it grows on blue trees.

This is the National Party that gifted $30 million to Rio
Tinto and over $90 million to Warner Bros to subsidise 'The
Hobbit'. Both Rio Tinto and 'The Hobbit' have  made billions
in profits.

I'd rather spend our taxes on New Zealanders rather than
subsidising billion-dollar  foreign corporations.

Mr Bridges - breathe through your nose!
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-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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For the actual policy launch, here is Russel Norman’s speech on a Youtube clip,

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References

TV3: How The Hobbit came to stay in NZ

Beehive.govt.nz: $100m for investing in warmer, healthier homes

Fairfax media: $1b Budget warmup

TV3: Labour backs Greens’ solar panel policy

Youtube: Solar Homes policy launch

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vote mana labnour green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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= fs =

Key’s challenge to Deep Sea Oil Drilling Protesters

11 February 2014 2 comments

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NZ is prepared for an oil spill

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Key has made a challenge to Deep Sea Oil Drilling Protesters,

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"The comments I made in rebuttle were to the leader look, come to Wellington, spend a week with my ministers and their ministries. If at the end of that week you're proved to be right in the assertions you're making, I'll join your protest. "But if you're proved to be wrong, go out there and tell the protesters, because many of the things he was saying were just simply and utterly not correct. And that's why those people are protesting - because they've effectively got misinformation."

“The comments I made in rebuttle were to the leader look, come to Wellington, spend a week with my ministers and their ministries. If at the end of that week you’re proved to be right in the assertions you’re making, I’ll join your protest.

“But if you’re proved to be wrong, go out there and tell the protesters, because many of the things he was saying were just simply and utterly not correct. And that’s why those people are protesting – because they’ve effectively got misinformation.”

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That’s quite a challenge.

However, issuing such a challenge is ultimately futile. For a challenge to be accepted, there has to be a measure of trust on both sides.

Quite simply, the days of trusting our current Prime Minister – with all his broken promises; bending the truth; lying by omission;  ducking responsibility; shifting blame onto others; telling only half the truth (or less); and outright lies – is long gone.

As just one example. Let’s not forget that when Greenpeace first released their modelling of a deep-sea oil blow-out, it was dismissed as “scare-mongering” by the Prime Minister,

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PM dismisses Greenpeace oil spill report

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Two months later, and documents released by Maritime New Zealand (prompted by an Official Information Act request for Anadarko’s discharge management plan) revealed even more disturbing news – Greenpeace had actually under-estimated the effects of a deep-sea oil blowout!!!

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Oil leak numbers far worse than assumed

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So Key’s dismissal of Greenpeace’s report had been wrong.  Greenpeace’s modelling was not only shown to be correct, but actually under-estimated any disaster scenario.

Did Key admit that his initial assessment of Greenpeace’s report was premature and wrong?

Did Key apologise?

Did the Anadarko report prompt Key to review his support for deep sea oil drilling?

Did Key announce “I’ll join your protest!”?

The answer to each of those four questions is a flat out; “No”.

So this blogger wonders; why should any protestor  take up Key’s challenge when our Prime Minister has already demonstrated he is not to be trusted?

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References

Radio NZ: PM dismisses Greenpeace oil spill report

Fairfax media: Oil leak numbers far worse than assumed

Radio NZ:  PM says deep sea protesters misled

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deep sea oil drilling new zealand

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 5 February 2014.

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Anti-Deep Sea Drilling Wellingtonians Take To The Streets (part rua)

1 February 2014 1 comment

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Continued from: Anti-Deep Sea Drilling Wellingtonians Take To The Streets (part tahi)

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One day son al this will be yours

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NZ, Wellington, 24 January 2014 – As Wellington basked in a fine, warm summer day, over two hundred people gathered at Midland Park, in Lambton Quay, in the city’s CBD.

The message from Wellingtonians was simple; don’t mess with our environment;

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The media filmed and recorded, as speakers addressed the crowd, and Wellingtonians lined up to sign the Trespass Notice;

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Oil Free Wellington organiser, James Barber, on the bullhorn;

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TV1 and TV3 camera crews, with Radio NZ’s reporter off-picture;

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The protest march took off along Lambton Quay, toward the offices of Anadarko, several city-blocks away;

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Strangely, the police insisted that protesters keep to the footpath instead of the road.  Which proved more of an inconvenience to other pedestrians than potential  inconvenience to vehicle traffic, of which there was little on the road;

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When some of the protesters spilled onto the edge of the road, this police officer took a strong response to force them back on the footpath – despite the road being closed to  vehicular traffic. There was a momentary face-to-face confrontation between James and this policeman;

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It seemed rather unnecessary, as most  protesters were good natured, middle class Kiwis, rather than “hard-core-fanatical-extremists-hellbent-on-the-destruction-of-Western-Capitalism”.

The marchers moved along Hunter Street, crossing a road. Next stop, Anadarko!

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There was support from by-standers and passers-by, such as this worker who stood across the road from the marchers, expressing her obvious approval by clapping;

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The protestors arrived at the Todd Building, where Anadarko  is headquartered. At this point, the crowd numbers had swelled to nearly 300 (approx);

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The open courtyard quickly filled;

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The Mana Party was well represented at the protest;

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anti-anadarko protest - midland park - wellington - NZ - 24 January 2014

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Meanwhile, as pointed out in the previous part of this blog report – the Labour Party was conspicuous by it’s absence.

Oil Free Wellington organiser and spokesperson, Fi Gibson (in background, with loudspeaker), addressed the crowd and explained that the Trespass Notice would be delivered to Anadarko, who would be urged to pack up and leave New Zealand;

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Ursula and Ruby had their own message for Anadarko;

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An unusually heavy police presence (at least three other policemen off-camera) at a peaceful, low-key protest;

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Had someone from the Beehive given instructions that Anadarko’s offices and representatives were to be protected at all costs? With oil licences worth billions at stake, it’s not unlikely that such instructions were issued from “on high”.

These three young women are members of a coalition of environmentalist student activists from Wellington High School and Wellington East Girls College. From left-to-right, Rheilli, Courtney, and Anna;

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Spokesperson Anna had this to say on the problem posed by deep-sea drilling;

“We’re a coalition between Wellington East Girls College and Wellington High School. We are Oil Free Wellington for Schools…

… We support support Greenpeace,  Green Party,  Oil Free Wellington and any other grass roots or NGO groups in the area, to stop deep sea drilling of our coast. Particularly in the Pegasus Bay area because it’s right where we live and we love the ocean. We want to protect the ocean not only for  us, as children, but for our children and their children, the future generations of New Zealand.”

I asked what they saw as the top concerns around deep sea drilling. Anna replied,

“Well, I’m definitely concerned about the spill risk which is huge. There is no way that this is an environmentally viable solution.

But my main  concern is that we’ll all  be contributing to global warming.

Already out of the 3,000 available giga-tonnes of carbon fuel-reserves we can only afford to burn another 500 of those [giga-tonnes]. Those are the ones we already have. We have no business digging up more.

We can’t raise the temperature above 2 degrees, otherwise it could mean mean catastrophic climate change [and] out  of control situations.”

I was mightily impressed by Anna, and her friend’s knowledge and dedication to environmental issues. If the young people of New Zealand are of the intelligence and passion of these three young people, then the future of this country is a bright one indeed! (No, not John Key’s “vision” of “bright”.) They’ll have to be – our generation will be leaving our children and grand-children a hell of a mess to clean up.

Before dispersing, people were invited to leave messages for Anadarko on the courtyard floor and footpath (in removable chalk);

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The messages varied,

“Solar energy is the way”

“Go home Anadarko”

“Frack off”

“[peace sign] world peace”

“Stop killing our oceans”

“Keep out greed”

“No deep sea oil”

“We’re better than oil”

“Leave our sacred land”

“Enough is enough”

“You’re on the wrong side”

“Leave the sea alone”

“No future in oil mate”

“Don’t drill just chill”

“How do you sleep at night?”

“Blood is on your hands”

“Fuck John Key”

“Deep sea drilling is a criminal act”

“We [heart] this planet”

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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On the issue of Labour’s visible absence; if the Labour Party wants to set itself apart from the Left – as well as general mainstream, middle-class Kiwi society – by supporting the phenomenally risky practice of deep sea drilling, as well as adding to greenhouse gases – then the Labour leadership should not be surprised if they find their fortunes falling in the polls. Whilst at the same time, unsurprisingly, the Greens will be the rising star.

I was intrigued by the make-up of the crowd who protested. Most seemed to be ‘ordinary’ New Zealanders – the sort who would be working in offices; shopping in malls; taking their kids to school; etc. And a large majority were women.

I believe that the leadership of the two main Parties have mis-read the concerns of the public on this matter.

I believe it will become an election issue.

And I believe the Green Party (with perhaps Mana) will stand to gain from their more cautious, common sense approach to this unpopular practice.

I would also offer a word of caution to the Labour leadership; if between now and the election we suffer another major oil spill of our shores, do they really want to be ‘tarred’ by the same oil-brush that National will inevitably be?

Another oil spill will spell the doom of this National government for the next decade at least. Labour would find itself dragged down with the Nats – because they have placed themselves on the wrong side of history.

The protest on 24 January through the streets of Wellington may have been small. But the constituency of the marchers reflected the greater constituency of the country as a whole.

Just in case any Labour and National MPs reading this are in doubt, they should look a little closer at the faces of the people in the pictures in this blog-report.

They are the faces of New Zealanders.

New Zealanders who vote.

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NZ is prepared for an oil spill

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 January 2014.

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References

Oil Free Wellington | website

Oil Free Wellington | Facebook

NZ Herald: NZ not 100% pure but aspires to be, says Govt

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Oil Free Wellington is requested.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Anti-Deep Sea Drilling Wellingtonians Take To The Streets (part tahi)

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One day son al this will be yours

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NZ, Wellington, 24 January 2014 – Summer arrived just in time for a gathering of Wellingtonians protesting at deep-sea oil drilling and Anadarko’s presence in New Zealand.

It was a mild, warm day with a light breeze, as protesters gathered at Midland Park in Lambton Quay, down-town Wellington, and mingled with office workers having their lunch on the grass; concrete steps; and nearby Astoria Cafe;

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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People came with printed banners;

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Others made their own;

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Regardless of style and provenance, the message was crystal clear;

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“Expect resistance” – Kiwi style – which will be demonstrated at the ballot box, later this year;

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Political parties, that ignore public concerns at the dangerous practice of deep sea drilling, do so at their peril.

Some came dressed for the part, like this “sea gull”;

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Aya (center) and two fellow Young socialists – the next generation of leaders on the Left. They will be leading the charge against irresponsible corporate, government, and capitalist activity which threatens our planet’s environment;

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The message for all politicians, whether from the Left or Right;

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Wellingtonians were invited to sign a Trespass Notice, to be delivered  in person to Anadarko;

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Many in the crowd who did not take part in the protest were still eager to add their name to the Trespass Notice;

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A simple message, delivered in a clever way;

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So when did the notion of clean water; un-polluted seas; and respect for the environment become a “radical” thing? Isn’t New Zealand supposed to be proud of it’s “100% Pure” and “Clean and Green” reputation? Or, as National suggested,  are those “aspirational goals” only?

Young Arlo, standing behind his dad, Green MP Gareth Hughes, as he addressed the protest rally,

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Gareth spoke without a prepared speech, and said that this was about protecting the environment for children “like my son, Arlo”. His sentiments were well recieved by the crowd.

Arlo,  holding his simple message for what it’s all about;

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Gareth was followed by Wellington Regional Councillor and environmentalist, Paul Bruce;

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Paul gave the science behind global warming and said that with  humans continuing to load up the atmosphere with CO2 and seas continuing to warm, it was time to call a halt.

After Paul, Mana Party member and campaigner, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati took the loudspeaker;

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Ariana began by repeating the simple truth; “Aotearoa is not for sale!” She said that deep sea drilling was part of the neo-liberal agenda to “mine it, drill, frack it”.

Ariana said that neo-liberalism was a failed economic system that exploited our resourtces for the benefit of the One Percent. She said bluntly,

No one has the right to prostitute our land!”

Arians expressed her disappointment that Labour had not ruled out deep sea drilling and urged Labour supporters “to work on their Labour MPs“.

Many New Zealanders  will not accept dangerous decisions from politicians who, after all, are only seeking short-term gain and solutions to complex problems. When ‘ordinary’, middle class New Zealanders are expressing opposition to deep sea drilling and all the risks entailed, politicians who ignore their concerns run the risk of being tossed out of office.

Voting is resistance;

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Green MP, Gareth Hughes, interviewed by a TV1 news team;

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Kevin Hackwell, representing one of New Zealand’s most formidible and credible environmental protection organisations, Forest & Bird,  speaking to  members of the public;

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In fact, only one group was conspicuous with it’s total absence: the Labour Party.

And I think we know why.

Continued at: Anti-Deep Sea Drilling Wellingtonians Take To The Streets (part rua)

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 January 2014.

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References

Oil Free Wellington | website

Oil Free Wellington | Facebook

NZ Herald: NZ not 100% pure but aspires to be, says Govt

TV3 News: Oil companies welcome Labour backing

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Oil Free Wellington is requested.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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