Green MPs protest Star Wars link

The Green Party wants New Zealand to re-examine the use of the Harewood base at Christchurch airport for US supply flights to Pine Gap, in light of Australia buying into “Star Wars”.

Green MPs Keith Locke and Rod Donald will this weekend be participating in protests at the Waihopai spy base, another key element of US intelligence activities in the region.

This week Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill announced his country will commit itself to the US missile defence program by equipping its new destroyers with SM3 anti-ballistic missiles and its F/A-18 and P3 Orion aircraft with cruise missiles.

“Clearly the joint US-Australian spy facility at Pine Gap will now be playing a greater role in Star Wars,” said Mr. Locke, the party’s defence spokesperson. “We should stop US Air Force planes using Harewood for supply flights to Pine Gap.

“About once a month a US Starlifter or Galaxy touches down at Christchurch International Airport on the way to Pine Gap. This arrangement is inconsistent with our nuclear-free status, because Star Wars is encouraging a nuclear arms race. Countries like China will expand their nuclear arsenals to ensure they have a capacity to penetrate the US and Australian missile shield.

“We can’t look the other way and pretend it is business as usual.

“The Green Party is also concerned about the way the US and Australia uses information from the satellite communications interception facility at Waihopai, near Blenheim.

“Phone and email intercepts from Waihopai are automatically fed to partner agencies, particularly the US National Security Agency (NSA).

“There is no question this information is used by the Bush administration for foreign policy objectives very different from our own. Earlier this year it was disclosed that the NSA was using its system, of which Waihopai is a part, to intercept the communications of UN Security Council members not supporting the invasion of Iraq.”

Keith Locke will be speaking at a Waihopai public protest meeting in Blenheim at 7.30pm, Friday, January 16 at the Nativity Centre Lounge, cnr Alfred and Henry Streets, Blenheim.

Rod Donald will be speaking at a rally in Seymour Square, Blenheim at 11am, Saturday, January 17, and both MPs will participate in the peaceful protest outside the Waihopai base at 2pm.