The Government is consulting on the development of a national space policy.
It’s a chance for the public to have a say on how we proceed in a world where activities in space are becoming more and more contentious.
The Green Party thinks that:
- Increased militarisation of space goes against our national interests, and we should ban military-related space launches
- The existing legislative regime for regulating launches from Aotearoa New Zealand’s soil is not fit for purpose
- By neglecting to engage properly on the issue with tangata whenua, the Government is not honouring te Tiriti o Waitangi
- The environmental impacts of rocket launches from our soil are not well-understood
You can make a submission HERE
What needs to change?
The militarisation of space is a threat to national interest
Aotearoa New Zealand has a burgeoning space industry that has grown rapidly. But not all space-related activity is in our interests.
Militarisation expands warfare to the peaceful domain of space, threatening people and planet. Allowing payloads with potential military end-use to be launched into space from New Zealand soil would support a more dangerous and divided world, and make us complicit in its creation.
Upholding our commitment to nuclear-free
The Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control (PACDAC), has previously warned the government “...that allowing the launch of certain space satellites that belong to certain branches of the US Military could, prima facie, result in improved communications for the control of a nuclear explosive device”.
Over the last five years, the New Zealand Government has provided permits for at least 30 rocket launches, some of which have included ambiguous payloads for the US military and intelligence and other foreign actors. Cabinet has agreed an approach to payload permitting which lays out activities that are not in the national interest, including ‘payloads that contribute to nuclear weapons programmes or capabilities’ – but no national interest analyses have been undertaken for any of these launches.
Even if the payloads themselves aren’t nuclear, Aotearoa New Zealand should never allow any payload to be launched from our lands that could facilitate the command and control of nuclear weapons. Our proud history of opposition to nuclear weapons - echoed again by the Prime Minister at the United Nations General Assembly this year - must not be circumvented by the interests of other nations.
Space-related law and regulation is not fit for purpose
Payloads that contain hardware that could potentially be used for military purposes – such as contributing to weapons targeting systems – go against Cabinet’s stated national interest principle of Safety. The Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017 enables the Minister responsible to decline payload permits that go against the national interest, but no national interest analyses have been undertaken.
It must be made clear in law that further militarisation of space is not in the national interest, nor consistent with our international commitments to ensuring peace in space. The Act should be amended to prohibit payloads containing military hardware being launched from New Zealand. Aotearoa should also have binding rules that prevent all future Governments from launching rockets that serve the interests of foreign military and intelligence agencies, and the criteria for when a national interest analysis should be undertaken must be clarified.
Honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi
Te Tiriti o Waitangi guaranteed the ongoing exercise of tino rangatiratanga of tangata whenua and hapū over their whenua, awa, moana, kāinga and all of their taonga (both tangible and intangible). Yet there is nothing in law that requires either Government or private space operators to consult and genuinely listen to tangata whenua.
The Act must be amended to require the crown and private space operators to respect the rights of tangata whenua, including appropriately and directly engaging with tangata whenua during any consultation processes relating to their whenua and taonga. Tangata whenua should also have direct input into this national space policy review process.
The cumulative environmental impact of rocket launches must be further investigated
Every rocket launch has an impact on the environment. Fuel is burned to propel the rocket, and rocket parts are jettisoned throughout its flight - some pieces as heavy as 360 kg. Local whānau have seen the absence of local birds and kaimoana. The last assessment of the possible impact of debris from space launches on the environment was a first stage Ecological Risk Assessment conducted by NIWA in April 2017. Five years later there have been at least 30 rocket launches from New Zealand, and we are well overdue further review of environmental effects.
Making a Submission
Use any of these statements below to get you started on what you think the National Space Policy needs to include. Make the statements your own. Personalised statements have more impact: You can make a submission HERE
Start with… (issue/problem)
- Payloads are being launched into space from New Zealand for foreign military and intelligence actors.
- The government has been warned that satellites from certain military actors could threaten our nuclear-free commitments.
- Space activities that only serve to increase military power jeopardise human safety.
- The Crown needs to live up to its obligations and commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
- Every rocket launch has an impact on the environment
Build your point of view… (goal/motivation)
- Supporting the continued militarisation of space threatens our national interest
- Our country must ensure it protects its nuclear-free stance
- Space should be a place of peace and progress, not war and conquest.
- There is nothing in law that requires either the government or private space operators to consult and genuinely listen to tangata whenua - that needs to change.
- Reducing the environmental effects of space activities, including rocket launches, should be a priority.
Our solution is… (policy point)
- The Government needs to acknowledge that contributing to the militarisation of space goes against the national interest.
- The Government should never allow any payload to be launched from New Zealand that could facilitate the command and control of nuclear weapons
- The Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017 must be amended to:
- Ban space launches with payloads containing any military hardware
- Prevent the launch of payloads that serve the interests of foreign military and intelligence agencies
- Require the crown and private space operators to respect the rights of tangata whenua.
- Tangata whenua must have direct input into this national space policy review process.
- The government needs to commission further Ecological Risk Assessments of the environmental effects of space activities, particularly rocket launches.
 NZ ratified the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies in 1968, https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/outerspacetreaty.html
 Ecological Risk Assessment of the impact of debris from space launches on the marine environment, NIWA (2017). https://environment.govt.nz/assets/Publications/Files/Ecological-Risk-Assessment-of-the-impact-of-debris-from-space-launches-on-the-marine-environment.pdf