MED target of fracking and drilling protest

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 13:47 07/05/2012
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KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

Angus MacDonald as Captain Jack Frack at the anti-fracking protest at the Ministry of Economic Development.

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Protesters descended on the Ministry of Economic Development in Wellington today and threatened further action if the Government doesn't agree to end deep sea oil drilling and put a moratorium on fracking.

More than 50 people arrived at the MED's office on Bowen Street this afternoon before moving on to the offices of mineral sector collective Straterra and the Brazilian Embassy.

Brazil's Petrobras has been conducting seismic exploration in the Raukumara Basin.

The protestors held signs calling for an end to deep sea oil drilling and fracking - a method used to extract oil and gas from underground wells.

"Don't sell Aotearoa down the Dunn-e. Vote no Dunne deal," one sign with a picture of United Future leader Peter Dunne said.

Protest organiser and Gisborne District councillor Manu Caddie said the protest was polite and peaceful but things may not stay that way if a moratorium on fracking was not put in place and deep sea drilling permits revoked.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright has begun an investigation into fracking which opponents say pollutes water and causes earthquakes.

But the Government has said it will not stop to the use of fracking while the investigation is underway.

"Do the sensible thing and put a moratorium in place until that time when she's completed her report and said that it's safe for New Zealand," Caddie said.

The protestors chanted "he he ho ho, those fracking frackers got to go" and "John Key you've got mail; Aotearoa is not for sale".

They were also upset at plans to tender exploration permits for deep sea drilling around the country, including in the Pegasus Basin of Wellington's southeast coast.

"Please revoke the permits that you're pimping around the world to multi-national oil and gas companies for deep sea oil and gas," Caddie said.

That was a polite request but there were people who were very committed to stopping it and there would be "further consequences" if the Government did not listen, he said.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said people should feel passionate about the issue because New Zealanders faced all of the environmental risk and received little of the economic benefit.

"We don't want to see fracking and risky deep sea oil [drilling] tarnishing our environment for the benefit of only very few, economically.

"It's great to see the momentum building."

A dozen police officers and a number of public servants returning from lunch stood outside the entrance to the building during the protest.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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