Simon Bridges urges 'glorified social worker' police to crack down on Extinction Rebellion

Simon Bridges has described police as "glorified social workers" and is urging them to be tougher on Extinction Rebellion protesters who vandalised his electorate office. 

Bridges, National Party leader, told Magic Talk while he thinks it's important people have the right to protest, the vandalism against his office in Tauranga was "unlawful". 

"I've got workers who will be turning up there and will spend - I presume - a couple of hours or more cleaning this icky stuff off and that's not right."

Members of the environmental movement poured molasses, a thick dark syrup, over the steps to the Opposition leader's office over the weekend to represent "dirty oil". 

In a Facebook post explaining the group's intention, Extinction Rebellion's Doug Doig said: "This is a climate and ecological emergency - we need people like National Party leader Simon Bridges to tell the truth about the state of things."

Bridges is now urging the police to come down harder on the climate activists. 

He said police have "become glorified social workers" and said their "job seems to be to have a hui and not any sort of doey when it comes to these sorts of things". 

Newshub has contacted the police for a response. 

Bridges criticised Extinction Rebellion protesters in October when they blocked the entrance of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) - the ministry for oil, gas and minerals - on Wellington's Stout St. 

"I think climate change is real and think we've got to act," Bridges said at the time. "But this emergency rebellion stuff is nonsense, it scares a lot of young people, and it doesn't achieve anything." 

He told the protesters it would make more sense for them to march on Parliament and to blame the "woke" Government doing "nothing" on climate action. 

Doig said in the Facebook post that Extinction Rebellion listened to the Opposition leader's advice, "so this time we brought it right to his doorstep". 

As the Extinction Rebellion's focus moved to Taranaki on Monday to protest oil giant OMV's permit to search for offshore oil and gas, Bridges described the group as "woefully, woefully misguided". 

He told Magic Talk unlawful behaviour needs to be challenged, pointing to the likes of about 30 protesters who boarded the OMV "henchboat" Skandi Atlantic in Timaru and occupied it for three days.

The Skandi Atlantic was preparing to leave the Port of Timaru and travel north to meet the OMV oil rig off the Taranaki Coast, but was delayed by the occupation.

OMV is set to begin drilling three exploratory oil wells there, and another in the Great South Basin off the Otago coast.

Bridges said the protesters are breaking the law and suggested the police are letting them get away with it. He said it's "no laughing matter" and that if the law is broken "the police should investigate". 

The former Energy Minister pointed to a 2013 law change he oversaw that protected the rights of oil companies making it illegal to intentionally damage or interfere with mining structures and vessels within a certain area. 

Former Labour MP Maryan Street described it at the time as the "Strip New Zealanders of Their Right to Protest Bill". 

Bridges said it's still the law and "in so many cases the police - maybe from Government instruction - aren't following the law". 

The Government banned new offshore oil and gas exploration permits in April 2018, but existing permits would be honoured, which is why OMV is still able to explore for oil.

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