A Dunedin activist says the police have come knocking,
asking about protest plans against the Trans-Pacific
Scout Barbour-Evans, a Dunedin transgender activist who goes
by the gender-neutral pronoun 'they', said two officers
knocked on their door at about 10 this morning.
The officers wanted to know what the plans were for anti-TPP
action in Dunedin, Scout said.
There have been scattered reports of anti-TPP activists in
Auckland being called or otherwise tracked down by the police
for questioning about their protest plans.
The police's interest in anti-TPP activists comes as
opposition to the deal ramps up ahead of the signing in
Auckland on February 4th.
The Dunedin-based TPP action group - of which Scout is not a
member - has planned a talk on the TPP tomorrow, and an
"action event" is planned to take place in the Octagon from
12-2:30 on Saturday.
National police media relations manager Grant Ogilvie
declined to comment on Scout's account of the interaction,
and said police would "not be making any statement about what
we might or might not be doing'' ahead of the TPP signing.
A police press release said police would "plan for every
eventuality which can be anticipated, and the measures we
take will be appropriate and thorough''.
Prominent anti-TPP protester Professor Jane Kelsey said such
monitoring of critics to the controversial agreement was
"entirely predictable'' behaviour from the Government, and
shows the "disrespect the Government has had throughout to
people's right to voice their dissent about this negotiation
and this agreement''.
"This is perfectly consistent with their attempts to shut
down democratic engagement with, almost anything, but
certainly with the TPPA.''
The Government was attempting to make a law and order issue
out of the opposition to the agreement, she said, by painting
those in opposition to it as radicals who posed a national
"One of the problems they've had is that the opposition has
been a groundswell throughout the country of ordinary people
from ordinary communities. If you look at the people who've
been engaged in the marches it's been grandmas and grandpas
and people with pushchairs,'' the University of Auckland law
"That's an image the Prime Minister I'm sure is quite
desperate to dislodge.
"We've been seeing them progressively rolling out this
strategy, or this attempt to redefine and create a law and
order issue out of it.''
If the Government could "whip up some law and order frenzy''
in advance of the signing, she said, it believed it could
"claw back some support ... for what is largely an unpopular
"The decision to hold the signing in the SkyCity Casino was
the first indication that that would be their strategy, they
could have decided to have it in a place that was going to be
less provocative,'' she said.
"In addition we have the story then about police holding riot
training around the country, and that was clearly set out
there to reinforce that message, and I think this latest one
is a further indication that they're trying to do a beat
She wouldn't be surprised if Mr Key announced that for
security concerns the signing would be moved to a more secure
venue, she said.
"I just view this as an on-going political strategy to try to
redefine the issue from being one of ethics and justice, and
democracy and sovereignty to a law and order issue.''
Professor Kelsey said she had not herself had a visit from
police - she's currently on a speaking tour throughout the
country, and had just arrived in Christchurch before speaking
to the Herald.
"If they've been to see me I don't know, but I would doubt
that they would. I think that they would know that that would
just make news.''
She said she did not know of anyone who had been visited by
"My initial reaction is that it is a little heavy-handed. The
protesters have a legal right to protest within the bounds of
"During every single TPP rally, I can't recall any instances
where protesters have been violent or aggressive.
"Unless the police know something we don't, the protesters
have the absolute right to voice their concerns, as we live
in a democracy.''
Mr Nash said he didn't blame frontline police for the tactic.
"They're just following a directive from above, and it would
be good to know why the police hierarchy feel this is a
necessary step, and it would be good to know if they actually
know if the protesters plan to engage in civil
The Green Party said reports of the police visiting known
activists to ask their plans for the TPP showed appalling
"Having police show up at your door to ask you what you plan
on doing is chilling and the police know that" said Green
Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.
"It carries with it an implicit threat and New Zealanders
have the right to speak out and have their voices heard.
Being an activist isn't a crime, being an activist is being
passionate about something and last time I checked that
"If this was a national directive, then police need to
reflect on what role they perform. Should we feel safe when
we see a police car in our rear view mirror, or should we
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the police will
need to have an explanation for their actions.
"If the police are asking them if their protest requires
traffic supervision then that would be legitimate, or if they
may have heard there will be a serious breach of the law, but
anything beyond that wouldn't be.
"The right to protest is one of our fundamental rights,
legitimately protest that is."
More in tomorrow's Otago Daily Times.
- Additional reporting NZME