Plunket talks about ratbag pirates

Sean Plunket discusses the 30 alleged Greenpeace pirates currently held in Russia.

I’ve never been held in a jail cell but it is, I imagine, not a very pleasant experience. I also imagine Russia would be one of the worst places to find yourself incarcerated, along with North Korea, Myanmar, El Salvador and China.

Certainly the 30 Greenpeace activists from 18 different nations currently held at the pleasure of Vladimir Putin’s government are finding the going pretty rugged.

Among their various complaints is the fact that it is cold, there are some nasty people in jail with them and the guards do not speak English. Well what did they expect – Sky and a sauna?

One cannot imagine that the crew of the Arctic Sunrise headed to the Arctic circle to illegally board an oil drilling rig with the expectation that a country with a long history of state repression and brutality was going to welcome them with open arms, put up its hands and cease drilling for black gold because a bunch of well-intentioned foreigners are worried about global warming, polar bears and whales. 

They were either willing participants, or incredibly foolish…I’m picking the first…

It would have been the height of naivety for the world’s largest multinational protest group to think it could out run or out-manoeuvre a nuclear-armed ex-superpower with one of the largest navies in the world. So we can logically conclude that the Arctic Circle 30, including two Kiwis, set off on their protest with the expectation and indeed the intention of being arrested, quite legally, for breaching the laws of Russia.

In those circumstances the faux outrage Greenpeace is now expressing around the globe can be seen only as part of a carefully planned and executed campaign in which the 30 jailbirds were either willing participants or unwitting pawns.

Greenpeace have mistakenly assumed that Russia would cave like the west in the face of hordes of protesting hippies. They are wrong. In all likelihood it has stiffened their resolve.

The campaign has reached all the way to Wellington with local Greenpeace members holding a rally outside the Russian Embassy in Messines Rd, Karori, last weekend and our diplomats in Moscow being instructed to provide what support they can to the New Zealanders banged up in a cold cell in a foreign land.

I for one can’t get that worked up about it and took some comfort in the thought it could never happen here, until I saw Campbell Live on Wednesday night.

It featured a story about a few Kaikoura residents opposed to oil exploration in the Pegasus basin by Anadarko. Over endless shots of the Deep Sea Horizon disaster the piece pointed out that Anadarko had a share in that oil platform (though it was a sleeping, not an operational partner) and then suggested that the seismic mapping of the seabed could scare off the whales, which are something of a tourist attraction.

There was quite a lot of emotional handwringing about future generations and the evil of multinational companies like Anadarko and then a dig at Energy Minister Simon Bridges for refusing an interview.

It appears we are not the only ones questioning the advocacy journalism of Campbell Live…and their willingness to be the story rather than report the story.

The piece correctly pointed out that new laws make it much harder for sea-borne protestors to interfere with people going about their lawful business and rightly highlighted the woefully inadequate level of oil spill response vessels we have.

But I would have taken the five or six outraged locals far more seriously had they been advocating the voluntary shutdown of the entire whale-watching industry.

Even a sometime climate change sceptic like me knows that jumping on an airplane is probably the worst thing anyone can do for the environment.

And almost all the foreign tourists who come to connect with the giants of the sea off the Kaikoura coast have come here on airplanes that use avgas produced from oil wells run by those big, evil, international oil companies that are all about making profits, just like those tourism operators in Kaikoura.

But the locals didn’t mention that on the telly and the item about their outrage was followed by a visiting photographer who talked about how nasty the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was and how it made him depressed.

Bummer, but on the upside Greenpeace had brought him all the way down to New Zealand on an airplane to show us his pictures and talk about those evil oil companies.

I was particularly struck by the comments of a Kaikoura fisherman who is so outraged by oil exploration that he says he’d go to prison over it. I’m sure that is what Greenpeace want but at least he’ll have a warm cell and guards who speak English.

And heated floors, and a flat screen TV and only one other cell-mate. The hypocrisy and sanctimony of the green taliban knows no bounds.


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  • jb

    Poorly planned grandstand by stupid people. And now they expect the world to save them.

    • andrew carrot

      Just as Russia heads into winter. Excellent timing.

      • Bunswalla

        Almost Hitlerian in its lack of awareness

        • jb

          I was about to say who was the last idiot who tried to enter Russia in winter…

        • andrew carrot

          If the poor dears were seeking fair play from the ruskies on matters humanitarian, two words were clearly omitted from their prep sessions: “pussy” and “riot”

          • Bunswalla

            Sorry, I stopped listening after “pussy”

  • blokeintakapuna

    Too true! Plunket & Whale hand out a spanking with the wooden hypocrisy spoon and smash it to smithereens on the butts of L&G in yet another case of Whale Whip Ass!

    Nice shootin’ Tex!

  • ConwayCaptain

    The number of oil spills has reduced year on year and the drilling off Taranaki has not had a spill in the 40+ years the field has been operational.
    We are not prepared for a major oil spill but if oil is found and they start drilling the oil companies will have to bring down the appropriate vessels.
    In the 1970’s Hunt Petroleum, owned by Bunker Hunt and family drilled South of Stewart Island. This was in the deepest and worst waters that had been drilled in at the time. The reason that they did not go further was that there was not the technology to drill in those waters. Also The Hunts lost a BOMB in the silver crisis. They tried to corner the market and FAILED.
    I was Mate of one of the 1st dynamically positioned Dive Support Vessels. These vessels were designed to operate beam on to Force 8 winds and stay within 1-2 metres of their position. They had fully redundant systems, one fell out the other took over.
    In the 30 years these systems have been improved exponentially and the huge drilling rigs do not need to be anchored to the sea bed. In the Pegasus Basin this would be impossible anyway.
    To protect the whales the seismic surveys could be carried out when the migration season is over as the whales only pass that way to the spawning grounds down south and when they return. There have been problems with whales and military sonar but I think that these seismic vessels operate by using air guns and not electro magnetic waves.

    • rockape

      Whales dont spawn they shagg and have babies. But appart from that I am right with you:-)

      • Bunswalla

        That may well be true, but “shagging grounds” has an unfortunate Westie bogan connotation. I think spawning grounds or breeding grounds is correct.

  • Rex Widerstrom

    And heated floors, and a flat screen TV and only one other cell-mate.

    Please stop this sanctimonious claptrap and talk to prison officers (not the department, and probably not the union) and maybe even a few sensible ex-cons.

    Prisons can’t afford to have mass outbreaks of the flu (prisoners are off work detail, are required by law & international conventions to receive basic medical treatment). And what’s the safest form of heating? Underfloor, where the wiring can’t be got at to start fires trying to light cigarettes after lockdown or otherwise misused. Guards will till you they don’t want gas or electric heaters on walls or even ceilings, thanks.

    Similarly, prisoners who’re allowed to gawp at an idiot box rather than vandalise their cell or attack their cellmate for something to do are easier to control & less risk to staff. And removal of TV privileges is an easily managed, low risk (to the officers, as they can do it when the prisoner’s out) punishment mechanism. Again, guards will tell you they want the TVs to stay.

    And you try purchasing a TV that’s not a flat screen. You want Corrections Officers to scour berms before hard rubbish collection day to scavenge old CRT sets?!

    And similarly with cell capacity. In Australia, and I imagine NZ, you start off in a shared cell (here it’s usually 3 or 4) and if you keep your head down you will eventually become eligible for a single. Though most prisoners actually ask to remain two-up for company. Again, a handy control lever for prison staff.

    And maybe not TVs, but minimum standards for heating & overcrowding are set in international agreements to which NZ is a signatory.

    If we start ignoring those, how reliable do we look when seeking the FTAs most here embrace so readily?

    • John Q Public

      Well said. Like its a barrel of monkeys doing time.

    • Bunswalla

      You seem to know a shit-load about prison conditions Rex

      • Rex Widerstrom

        Because I visit a shitload, read the reports of the WA Inspector of Custodial Services, have taken cases on behalf of prisoners against the Department when I’ve felt it to be justified, and have supported the union where that’s been justified – such as leaving a female officer in charge of 150 male inmates in an exercise yard.

  • dyannt

    “with local Greenpeace members holding a rally outside the Russian Embassy in Messines Rd, Karori, last weekend”

    Did they do this before someone decided to hare off to the Arctic?

  • Democ Kot

    Sadly for the greenpeace people Russian prisons also have quite a high rate of TB infection among inmates and is not always treated as a urgent case and so prisoners suffer. I know this because my wife treated prisoners with TB in russian prisons. there is a growing rise of the TB treatment resistant strain in the prisons as well. So they may be unlucky enough to catch it.

    • DLNZ

      They of course wont give a second thought to nasty billion dollar drug companies and their evil genetic engineering while they’re taking their life saving TB medication.

      • Democ Kot

        Yes!!! but Greenpeace HQ in Holland will have to pay out lots more money if they do catch the resistant strain but they may be kept away from the general population so it may not be a problem.

  • James Growley

    I hope the Russian court makes an example of these people and as a deterrent to others, sends them to Petak Island Prison, which is the most isolated prison in Russia located in the middle of a lake deep in remotest part of Russia. Prisoners
    spend 22 hours a day in cells and pace in an outdoor cage during their
    yard time. Parcels and visitors are allowed twice a year.

    • DLNZ

      22 hours a day? Apparently at the moment they’re in there for 23 hours a day. There’s no need to be generous and give them an extra hour :P

  • cows4me

    You know what has caused the greatest destruction to the fishing industry and the losing of livelihoods for 20 locals here
    a) oil drilling rigs
    b) melon wankers backed up useless greenie politicians.
    The answer is of course b on the pretext set netting was killing some make believe dolphin that hasn’t been seen for 50 years in local waters. We’ve have oil exploration here for as long as I can remember, the people of Kiakoura need to get a fucking life. Cut their oil supplies off, fucking nimbys.

    • DLNZ

      What gets me is that people think that if there is no oil drilling in NZ its somehow safer to have bloody great huge oil tankers plying our shores bringing it from overseas. Where have most of the oil spills in the world’s oceans originated from? Bloody oil tankers of course.

  • drummerboy

    I swear every time i read an article written about Russia by a US or NZ journalist they always compare Russia to some communist regime some where in the world like North Korea. the soviet died in 92/93, Russia is pretty liberal, they have a 13% flat tax rate

  • Steve (North Shore)

    Has anyone heard anything from Robyn and Lucy?
    Are they on a trip to Russia?

  • Brian of Mt Wellington

    What did they think. That Russian prison is going to be as soft and comfortable as NZ prisons. I dont think so, and there aint no point in complaining about conditions because they are not going to change their system for a bunch of pirates. They just better hope they dont get to stay for 15 years.