Government 'over-reacting' to protestors - Greens

File photo / supplied
File photo / supplied

There has been a call for the Government to quit cracking down on protestors and turn their attention to the issues protestors are talking about.

The Government is proposing to ban protestors from within 500 metres of mining structures and ships in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone.

Potential repercussions include up to $100,000 in fines, or 12 months imprisonment.

Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said the whole thing was an over-reaction.

"We think their attention should be focusing on stopping the real risk which is deep sea oil drilling, which there's no guarantee we won't see a Gulf of Mexico style accident and spill in our waters in the near term."

Lawyer and social policy expert Michael Bott said the plan showed the Government's hatred towards those who were passionate about the environment.

"In many ways it's lamentably sad. New Zealanders have a right to protest and a freedom to protest and express themselves enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act."

He is predicting the proposed crack-down on oil and gas protestors will actually encourage further protests, rather than dampen them down.

"New Zealanders are passionate about the environment and passionate about preventing mining in national parks, and passionate about selling out this country to multinational. People should get out and fight for the right to protest."

Mr Hughes said the government was changing the rules for the benefit of foreign oil companies.

"It's the same thing that we've seen with SkyCity, with Warners. I think it's a concerning amendment, this new petrol price amendment which will be introduced to Parliament within the fortnight. And it's part of a disturbing trend."

The provisions are in a Supplementary Order Paper which will be tabled in Parliament.

- Newstalk ZB

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