Govt's anti-oil protest bill passes final hurdle
The new law makes it illegal to protest drilling ships like this (file)
A bill which cracks down on protests against offshore oil exploration has passed into law this afternoon.
The Crown Minerals Bill includes a clause making it illegal to intentionally damage or interfere with mining structures and vessels.
Protesters who break the new law face up to 12 months in jail or a $50,000 fine and groups are liable for fines of up to $100,000.
Energy Minister Simon Bridges says the new legislation protects the rights of oil companies going about their business.
But the clause has been criticized as 'anti-democratic' by environmentalists and legal figures including former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and Peter Williams QC.
Mr Williams told 3 News the law was “brutal, repressive…and anti-New Zealand”.
Greenpeace labelled it the "Anadarko amendment" saying the Government was pandering to the interests of oil companies like US oil giant Anadarko.
Mr Bridges says the oil, gas and minerals contribute around $4 billion to the country’s GDP and the new law will help increase this figure.
"It supports the Government’s objective of growing the petroleum and minerals sectors, while ensuring better coordination of health and safety and environmental oversight," he says.
The law will come into force next month.