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Sunday, August 04, 2013

Fight them on the beaches

American company Anadarko has plans to start drilling for oil off the coast of Wellington this summer in water that is twice as deep as the water the Deep Water Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico was drilling in when it exploded, causing one of the worst oil spills in human history.

On a Sunday, in August, what other way would you want to spend your day than at the beach? If you were in New Zealand, people would probably look at you strangely and wonder what you had been smoking, but a group of around 60 mostly local Muriwai residents did exactly that. But they weren't trying to catch pneumonia or brave the wintery water, they were meeting to hear about the threat to their beach, and a large proportion of beaches around our beautiful country. These residents and other interested Aucklanders had come to the Muriwai surf lifesavers' club to hear representatives from the Greens, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Oil Free Auckland and Deep Sea Oil Watch Auckland speak about the National Government's plans to allow deep sea oil exploration off our coasts and the large scale sand mining operations planned for this coming summer.

American company Anadarko has plans to start drilling for oil off the coast of Wellington this summer in water that is twice as deep as the water the Deep Water Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico was drilling in when it exploded, causing one of the worst oil spills in human history. With the recent seismic activity Wellington has been experiencing recently it increases the risks tenfold, and yet there appears to be no halting of their plans. This government appears willing to sacrifice everything in order to make a quick buck. The future of our ability to enjoy our beaches as generations of Kiwis have done before is in jeopardy, because of our addiction to oil, and the drive to extract as much as possible before it runs out. This government is hell bent on ensuring we remain hooked on oil, like a drug dealer, pushing crack even when they know it will ultimately kill us if we continue.

It's time to break the habit, it's time for an intervention. A societal intervention. We don't have the luxury of time, but we have people who care and if given the right tools and knowledge, we can stop this government in its tracks. The time for petitions and lobbying MPs has passed. What we need is a popular movement that is willing to take the fight directly to the companies involved and straight to the National Party. They should not feel safe, and they should not be happy. They should not be able to have conferences unopposed, or speak at events without being hounded. This is a government on the attack; our civil liberties are being eroded, our privacy invaded, beaches contaminated, our country ripped up and sold off to the highest bidder. This is unacceptable in a country that helped end apartheid, that first gave women the vote, and stood up and said no to nuclear energy.

But where is the opposition? As socialists, we have little confidence in the Labour Party to stop this assault as they are part of the system and would just be a slower train to the cliff of environmental and social ruin. The Greens may have their heart in the right place but are not willing to call for the scale of direct action and civil disobedience required to stop this government. We need to take this battle to the streets, we need to have skilled activists planning actions, small and large. We need a diversification of tactics and imagination. If you've never organised a protest, or any kind of direct action, attend a non-violent direct action workshop or find people who have, and learn from them. Everyone has the potential to be a leader in their own right, everyone has a role to play. Revolutionaries should always aim to be the best workers, the strongest fighters, the most organised in the resistance to the Nats. We need to lead by example and help in whatever way we can.

We aren't there yet. But there is a hunger for change and the mobilisation of locals at events like out at Muriwai is a start. People need to know what we're up against and what's going on to stop it. Educate yourself on what's going on and start organising. We won't win by voting in a new government next election, by then it may be too late. We need change and we need it now.

Lets start demanding it!

-Nico, SA

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