Greens welcome 20th anniversary, warn against complacency

The Green Party is celebrating the 20th anniversary of New Zealand’s Nuclear Free Legislation, but says there is still a lot to do.

“Twenty years ago we were the mouse that roared, and this helped inspire other nations to set up nuclear-free zones, in the Pacific, South East Asia, Latin America and Africa,” Green Party Disarmament Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

“Our nuclear-free status has given us the moral authority to be a front-line campaigner against nuclear weapons. But there is still much for us to do, because the process of disarming the existing nuclear weapons states has largely ground to a halt.

“In fact, George W Bush is escalating the arms race with the Star Wars weapons programme and his nuclear missile shield, while the British government is spending billions on a new generation of Trident nuclear submarines. Nuclear Free New Zealand shouldn’t shrink from criticising existing nuclear states for further developing their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems.

“Without the destruction of existing stocks of nuclear weapons there will inevitably be proliferation to other countries, with potentially disastrous consequences for the world.

“One of our immediate goals is to link up the Pacific, South East Asian, African and Latin American nuclear free zones into a Southern Hemisphere and Adjacent Areas zone.

“It is disappointing that the Government’s commemoration statement has overlooked the opposition to nuclear power contained in the 1987 legislation. The Act rightly prohibits nuclear-powered ships from entering our ports.

“This provision was a result of a huge campaign against nuclear power in the 1970s and 80s, exemplified by the Campaign Half Million petition, launched in 1976, with quickly garnered 333,087 signatures, making it the largest petition in New Zealand’s history.

“In the spirit of the 1987 legislation New Zealand should be reasserting its opposition to nuclear power at a time when many nations are wrongly imagining it as a safe alternative to greenhouse gas emitting power plants,” Mr Locke says.