GCSB, protesting and the internetz.

I realise that many readers of this blog will think that I am merely an artsy, stroppy feminist with too many opinions traversing policy areas across the spectrum. This is a deliberate strategy that I have undertaken for this stream of publication.



So to ‘break the fourth wall’, I am now going to give you a little of my IRL specifics, in order that what I say about the GCSB Bill now before the House in New Zealand, has a little more validity.



I have been around the IT industry in our country since my early university days. Yep, I failed Comp 101, because it bored me rigid, rather than not understanding how to write binary code. I didn’t want to end up working with those kinda people, doing that kinda work. My sister is of a different personality type, and she loved it, and has had a twenty-five-year career (and counting) in IT, as has my ex-husband. It was during my marriage that I learned most of what I know about the internet, due to contracts my then-husband was working on for his employer, a major MNC which operates in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 



Don’t kid yourselves that there is anything ‘private’ about what you do on the net.


Don’t buy into the idea that you are ‘a consumer’, the internet is ‘a product’, nor that it is there to entertain you.



What we now call the internet began as Arpanet and DArpanet, projects of the USA Department of Defense, in collaboration with research projects at hand-picked Universities in the USA. It was originally an IT research program to create a secure way of transmitting and collecting data for the DOD. These days, we’d call that an intranet, similar to the kind of WAN that operates inside most corporations for administrative purposes.



The Bill going through our Parliament at the moment is a stage of DOD ‘taking back’ the internet from public use. Surveillance and transmission of surveilled data was always the primary purpose of the net; the Patriot Act in 2001, followed by Terrorism Suppression legislation in most global jurisdictions, was a first attempt to ‘plug the holes’. Creating crimes of knowledge, of dissemination of information, was the beginning of a global campaign by DOD to regain domination of the medium of internet traffic.

It is obvious in the trial of Bradley Manning, the attempts to smear and discredit Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the hunting down of Edward Snowden (still on-going), that the DOD is very serious about extending its’ capacities to control activities outside the borders of the USA.


This is a breach of the sovereignty of every other nation on earth, and most people are just going to sit by and watch as it happens, not making the connections to totalitarian control of their own lives.

So, on these grounds, I urge every thinking citizen of Aotearoa/New Zealand to join in the protests against the GCSB Bill that is before the House. There is a nationwide protest organised for Saturday 27th July 2013, all events beginning at 2pm.
Because this is only the thin end of a wedge that will see a totalitarian surveillance society established in every nation in the world, if we, the people, do not stop it. It’s too late to make submissions, but this is something anyone can do.
Events in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier are listed on FB and there is also a general group for discussion. (outlinks)

Our MP’s have spoken out against this Bill – here on frogblog and here and here on the main Greens website.

If you want to access the submissions that went to the Select Committee hearings, they can be found here (pdf to download).

If you want to view the submissions made during the hearings, video has been uploaded to You-tube. (outlinks)
Submitters Thomas Beagle, from Tech Liberty, Susan Chalmers and Jordan Carter from Internet NZ, Micheal Koziarski, Vikram Kumar, Simon Terry, all made submissions as working professionals contracting in the IT industry.
Keith Locke and Kate Dewes and Robert Green (nuclear disarmament activists) made submissions on the political aspects of the Bill.

Eradicating Ecocide – the Tour

Status

Polly Higgins is a lawyer who has dedicated her life to one client – the Earth.

A barrister and author, Polly has become an expert in Earth Law, a new body of governance to give voice to the Earth.

She speaks on all aspects of governance required for the new world, a world governed by a new set of values – values that put people and planet over profit.

Her recent book, ‘Eradicating Ecocide – Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of our Planet’ won The People’s Book Prize and was a nominee for both the Book Of The Year Award and the Beryl Bainbridge Prize.

Polly spoke today in Wellington to a lunchtime crowd, as part of her speaking tour organised by Wellington Central Green party candidate James Shaw. Her presentation is compelling, comparing the development of the definition of the crime of ‘ecocide’ to the post-WWII development of the crime of ‘genocide’ in respond to the crimes of Nazi Germany.

She clearly laid out the legal definitions involved, and spoke about several well-known cases of gross environmental damage that have been caused by corporate activity, from the Exxon Valdez spill through to the most recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Her tour continues to Nelson and Auckland before heading across the Tasman, so I urge readers outside Wellington to get to Nelson’s session tonite 7pm – 9pm at New Hub, New Street, Nelson CBD (opposite DeVille’s), and Auckland getting their turn Sunday 4th September 1- 9pm, at Earthsong, 457 Swanson Road, Ranui, Waitakere, Auckland, and in the CBD Monday 5th September 7pm – 9pm at Lecture Theatre 260-098, Owen Glenn Building, The University of Auckland.

She has a website of her own, with great info on ecocide here, and there is more information about her book here.

Final slide of the presentation

Final slide of the presentation

One last irony presented itself as we left the venue – Polly had not realised that the Spectrum Theatre, booked for her presentation, was in BP New Zealand’s head office building. Here she is with James after the humour of the situation set in, just before leaving to fly to Nelson.

Polly & James outside BP NZ HO.

Polly & James outside BP NZ HO.

Update:
Polly’s Auckland lecture at the University of Auckland was reported in the NZ Herald here.

Update #2
A mock trial on the crime of ecocide was held in London’s Supreme Court on 30th September, prosecuted by Polly Higgins. Reported here at the Independant, and discussed here at Learning From Nature blog.
It was also live-streamed on BSkyB, but I didn’t post that up in time, soz.
I admit to dropping the ball on that one. (This will be my only rugby-related metaphor, that is all)

Update #3
Very belatedly, here’s a link to the you-tube doco on the mock trial.

Here’s a submission on the Mining in Schedule 4 discussion document

Submission on the Mining in Schedule 4 Discussion Document

I am writing this submission as an individual citizen, albeit one who has had many years of tramping experience in National Parks, and was once regularly involved in taking groups of teenagers on day-tramps, as part of a ‘provincial experience’ during school holiday camps.

My key concerns about this discussion document are that removal of lands from conservation is unacceptable. I feel that this is a short-term measure that our children and grandchildren will revile our generation for taking. I am also very concerned that land which is promoted as being ‘added’ to schedule 4 by this discussion document is actually already gazetted for conservation, and is not any genuine attempt by the Government to extend the lands in conservation.

My specific concerns are as follows (referring to sections as named in the discussion document):

In Section 4: Areas proposed to be removed from Schedule 4 – the 7000ha to be removed from Schedule 4 immediately, so that mining can be considered on a ‘case by case’ basis – these areas all have a high tourism value, which is an ongoing income stream, as well as conservation, recreation and cultural values, which outweigh their potential for one-off income stream through mining. Schedule 4 protection should be permanent, and not subject to removal.

In Section 7: Specific areas proposed for removal from Schedule 4;
Te Ahumata Plateau on Great Barrier Island – the island is a near-pristine gem in the Hauraki Gulf, highly valued by the small community who live there, and is a valued holiday and recreational retreat for the Aucklanders on its doorstep, and tourists generally. Mining would do irreparable harm to the local residents’ quality of life, and the island’s reputation and tourism industry. I oppose removing this area from Schedule 4.
Sections of Conservation land on the Coromandel Peninsula – this is another diverse region with high conservation values, containing significant tracts of intact forest and threatened species. The Coromandel also has huge value as a wild and natural region close to major population centres, providing scenic and recreation opportunities. Conservation lands in the Coromandel deserve to stay in Schedule 4 to protect the ecological, tourism, and recreational values of this unique peninsula. As a child, this was a place that my family visited, driving from southern Hawkes Bay every summer to share a bach owned by the family my parents worked for; I learnt to swim here, learnt what a rip was, and how to survive being tumbled in a strong current. I learned to enjoy this environment without destroying the allure of nature that we returned for every year, the counterpoint to living in an isolated farming district. For much of my adult life, ‘summer’ is always a concept that I define by the Coromandel summers; any other place is rated by how it compares to this definitive experience. I would consider it treasonous for the Government to destroy this kind of heritage, for a few seasons’ worth of minerals, and I attempt to stop this so that I will be able to look my grandchildren in the eyes when I tell them stories of my childhood summers. I oppose removing this area from Schedule 4.
Otahu and Parakawai Ecological Area in the Coromandel – These areas, in addition to having all the attributes of the areas above, are home to the North Island Brown Kiwi, long-tailed bats, Hochstetter’s frogs, longfin eels, and banded kokopu. This habitat should not be removed from Schedule 4.
The Inangahua sector of Paproa National Park on the South Island’s West Coast – Paparoa National Park has outstanding ecological and landscape values. The Government’s interest in open-cast mining in this area is irresponsible, as climate change emissions will be significant. I oppose removing this area from Schedule 4.

In Section 5: Further investigation programme – this is tax-payer subsidisation of the mining industry, as they are the beneficiaries of the information the Government seeks to uncover. Conservation land is for protection, not exploitation – this investigation can only lead to more proposals for mining on conservation land, including Schedule 4 areas. Abandon the further investigation programme.

In Section 6.1: Joint Ministerial approval – This is inappropriate, as it entails handing over decision-making power over activities on conservation land to a development-focussed Minister. Reject joint Ministerial approval for access to Crown Land, leaving such decisions with the land-owning Minister.

In Section 8: Areas proposed for addition to schedule 4 – these are areas already gazetted, and while a positive step, these additions would have occurred anyway, and are long overdue. They do not ‘offset’ removals, and furthermore, these additions should be automatic whenever new lands are gazetted in to National Parks and the other land classification types listed in Schedule 4. I support the addition of new lands to Schedule 4, and the amendment of the Crown Minerals Act to make such additions automatic.

In Section 9: Establishment of a contestable conservation fund – Conservation management should be funded from the core budget of DoC, which should be re-instated to pre-2009 levels. Abandon the contestable conservation fund, restore the Greens’ $4million per annum Community Conservation fund (cut in 2009), and reinstate DoC’s 2009 budget cut of $54 million. I oppose any possibility that mining companies might receive funding to carry out remediation work on mined land, that is work they should have to do anyway in order to get mining permits.

There are also other areas which are not covered by Schedule 4, including national reserves such as Lewis Pass, and all of our World Heritage areas (Te Wahipounamu, Tongariro and the Sub-Antarctic Islands) – I recommend that these areas be added to Schedule 4.

In summary, I would like to re-iterate that New Zealand’s public conservation land is far too precious to mine. I heartily recommend a radical re-think of this document, as the Ministry of Economic Development has seriously underestimated the esteem with which the New Zealand public regard our wild and untrammelled places. These are, after all, the heritage that have been left to us by ancestors who wisely left some places of beauty, some places of refuge for the flora and fauna of our land, whose stewardship should be given at least the respect of serious consideration before these last refuges are destroyed for the dubious and temporary rewards of commerce.

National Parks, not National’s Parks

A very successful protest rally at Parliament today brought it home to the Government that there is serious, committed and organised opposition to their proposals to take Schedule 4 lands off the Department of Conservation Protection list.

Forest and Bird, Greenpeace, both the Green Party and Labour MP’s, The Coromandel Watchdogs, and environmental activists from many other smaller organisations were present to argue for restraint – and particularly, for John Key and Gerry Brownlie to be restrained, preferably by Minister for Conservation Kate Wilkinson, but if not so, then by the people of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Forest and Bird had a table going with leaflets and submission guides to help those who wished to make a submission on the Mining proposal. There were simple, instant submissions that people could sign on the spot, too.
For those who want more info, or to write a more personal submission, here are the links:
Forest and Bird quick submission form
Answer the Government’s questions online
Or you can send an e-mail to the Government about your thoughts on the Schedule 4 proposals, to schedule4(at)med.govt.nz
It’s suggested that comments sent be done as e-mail attachments.

There is a submission guide by Metiria Turei up on the Greens website, here.

And finally, some great shots of the protest were published on Scoop.

Green MP's en garde

Green MP's en garde

Metiria speaking, surrounded by media crush

Metiria speaking, surrounded by media crush