Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Not Easy Being Green

Can we take him seriously?
Ask yourself: what would Kermit do?
The NZ Green Party is drafting a proposal which may see our navy stalk Japan's whaling fleet annually.
Green Party MP Gareth Hughes is writing a private members' bill to amend the Defence Act 1990. This would see a naval vessel tail the nasty Nippons, which he says will ensure the safety of protesters. The mooted law change will be placed into the private members' bill ballot when Parliament resumes next month - that doesn't mean it will be debated: just that it will have the potential to be selected for debate. There can be as many as 40 bills competing for the few available places on the Parliamentary Order Paper, so the odds of Hughes' bill getting through are slim. But the thought's there.
He argues the proposal is one of the functions under the Defence Act anyway: "It's like when Kirk first sent a frigate to Mururoa Atoll. It's about bearing witness to an environmental crime." [In 1973, NZ PM Norman Kirk as a symbolic act of protest sent two navy frigates, HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Otago, to the French nuclear test site at Mururoa.]
NZDF occasionally conducts surveillance patrols of our economic exclusion zone (EEZ) and the Southern Ocean. And our latest Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) do have an ice capability. [The OPVs Otago and Wellington have strengthened hulls enabling them to enter southern waters where ice may be encountered. They are not designed as ice-breakers or to enter Antarctic ice-packs, but have the range and capability to undertake patrols down south where ice may be encountered.]
The Greens have repeatedly called for the NZGovt to send a navy vessel to follow the whalers/protesters tag-team, but have been consistently rejected: "We need more than just words to save the whales. Diplomatic pressure has failed. At this point in time, the best thing the govt can do to save the whales is to ensure the safety of protest vessels trying to stop the hunt."
Last Friday the Oz federal Coalition harpooned a similar proposal by the Oz Greens. As always, to hell with what the voters want...

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