Thursday, August 08, 2019

Time to repeal the Anadarko Amendment

The Thompson and Clark / MBIE spying scandal continues to result in fallout, this time in the form of a report on the implementation of MBIE's "Operation Exploration", its internal operation to enforce the infamous Anadarko Amendment which criminalised protests against the oil industry. MBIE's enforcement operation was tainted by the involvement of Thompson and Clark, and so after SSC told government agencies not to work with private spies, the entire operation was reviewed. The full report is here, but the key findings are:

  • MBIE's risk model treated democratic protest as an imminent, severe threat - basicly as piracy or terrorism. This led to a focus on spying on protest groups. MBIE staff interviewed for the report admitted that the risk was "overblown".
  • MBIE's plan for reducing risk i.e. protest focused on boosting the social licence of the oil industry - basicly, conducting and disseminating oil industry propaganda.
  • MBIE staff believed the Anadarko Amendment was "not a deterrent to interference, but a motivator for some organised protest entities, increasing the likelihood of on-the-water protest actions". The entire thing was counter-productive anyway.

The report recommends reforming the governance of "Operation Exploration", because that was its terms of reference. Instead, it would be much easier to simply repeal the Anadarko Amendment, ending both its direct affront to democracy and its encouragement of anti-democratic behaviour by the state.