Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No spies on DOC land

Hot on the heels of the revelation that Solid Energy is spying again comes the news that a security firm run by its preferred agents is seeking a concession to patrol DOC land. The purpose? Spying on protestors, of course. If they get their way, people using public walkways around Stockton will be questioned, spied on and photographed by security thugs. They may also face harassment, intimidation, and illegal attempts to deny access. Why am I so sure? Because that's exactly what they did last time:

The Department of Conservation had created a narrow public exclusion zone on DOC land adjacent to the Mt Augustus workings and Provision Security was employed by Solid Energy to advise members of the public who approached the exclusion zone of the health and safety issues associated with blasting in the area. Provision was required to seek DOC assistance to remove anyone who failed to heed the warnings. There had never been any security breaches by protestors on Mt Augustus.

However, according to the allegations of Bruce Stuart-Menteath, the Provision security guards took the law into their own hands. He claims that when he went up the mountain to monitor great spotted kiwi outside the DOC exclusion zone, he was met by Provision security guards on the track, outside the exclusion zone, who could not identify themselves, claimed that he could go no further and attempted to escort him back down the mountain.

When he refused he claims they later searched the mountainside for his campsite and then placed it under 24 hour surveillance. When Mr Stuart-Menteath discovered this covert activity he packed up camp with the intention of finding another camp site with some privacy, but was harassed and followed through the bush by two security guards who could not provide any identification, one of whom even refused to give his name.

"I was amazed that of the four Provision Security employees I met, none of them had any identifcation at all, no proof of authority, and all of them were operating illegally on DOC land for purposes that had nothing whatsoever to do with health and safety or security. Rather, they appeared to be acting out some sort of fantasy the likes of which one reads about in Boys Own annuals"

That time, Provision was found to have been operating illegally, but let off with a warning. Their application for a concession is an attempt to legitimise their activities. It should be denied. We should not allow private security thugs to operate on public land.