Parliament is discussing a new Crown Minerals Bill at the moment. The Crown (which means the government) owns any oil, gas or other mineral resources in the sea around our country. The government wants to make it easy for overseas oil companies to drill for oil. An amendment – an extra part of the bill – is trying to stop protest at sea. Anyone who comes closer than 500m from a ship or a structure in the sea which is drilling for oil could be arrested, fined and sent to prison.
Many well-known New Zealanders are very angry about this amendment. They say that the oil companies asked the government to pass this amendment. Protest is an important part of democracy.
New Zealanders have protested at sea before. Our most famous protest at sea was against the French nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean. Listen to March 24th 2009 to hear about this.
There is gas off the coast of Taranaki and possibly oil and gas out at sea off our coast elsewhere. However, many people are not happy about oil exploration.
• A Bill – when it is passed, it becomes an Act (a law).
• structure – a building or a drilling rig
• fined (v) – have to pay a fine (n)
• oil exploration (n) – exploring (v) for oil; looking for oil
1. Why are some people unhappy about oil exploration? (many reasons)
2. Under this law, protesters can protest 500m away from a drilling rig. Is this a fair law?