"Will John Key pull the Putin card and arrest everyone?"

A few of months ago, I posted a blog revealing the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key's desire to drill and dig up as much of New Zealand as he can for fossil fuels. This contrasts greatly with the usual perception people elsewhere in the world tend to have of New Zealand. It's usually thought of as a clean and green refuge.

Since posting that blog, the Prime Minister and his Government have been true to his word and have been busy doing the dirty work for the fossil fuel industry - except they have encountered a stumbling block: public opposition. That opposition is, as I write, in a stand-off on the high seas. As this picture shows, the sailing boat SV Vega - a representative of the "Oil Free Seas Flotilla" - has positioned itself in the area where the Anadarko's oil drilling ship, the Noble Bob Douglas is aiming to drill. It's a tense stand-off and a test of some dastardly new legislation the Government has recently passed to try and prevent such protest, and to fast track the oil drilling process.

The legislation changes include treating offshore oil drilling as "non-notified". That means the public have no input into deciding if such risky oil drilling projects are given the go ahead. They also passed legislation that treats any protest boats as criminal if they 'interfere' with a vessel by coming within 500 metres of it. This contravenes the freedom of navigation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Latest reports from the folks on SV Vega reveal that it is within 200 metres of the Noble Bob Douglas, which led its captain to issue a warning: "You are currently inside that 500-metre zone, so we are giving you guys 10 minutes to get outside that zone and then we will commence our operation." But Bunny McDiarmid, the Vega's skipper and executive director of Greenpeace NZ, responded: "This is the sailing vessel Vega. We will not be moving. We are here in defence of our oceans, future generations, our climate and our coastlines."

That is a courageous stand the crew are taking. To show you stand with the crew of the SV Vega like and share this blog, or any of the news associated with the stand-off, and you can follow the updates which Greenpeace are providing here.

It's a tense stand-off, which will continue to unfold, and as we wait we have to wonder, as the Green Party co-leader Russel Norman put it, "will John Key pull the Putin card and arrest everyone?"

This photo thanks to Greenpeace NZ.