Government rushing oil legislation

The Crown Minerals (Petroleum)Amendment Bill is before Parliament at the moment. It has come back from the submissions phase, where 2312 submissions were collected from members of the public, N.G.O.’s and others. In the next few weeks it will go back to the House of Representatives for its third and final reading.

Despite its promises of transparency, I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with those who oppose the legislation in claiming that it is being rushed. Yes we had a chance to make submissions (though mine was destroyed when my USB drive corrupted itself one day and never got to be submitted). Yes we were given a chance to speak to the submissions before the select committee.

But I nevertheless believe that too much haste is being made in progressing this legislation. This is especially since the announcement in April that oil and gas would be phased out did not involve any prior consultation with the oil and gas sector, or any apparent effort to figure out what alternative sources of fuel could be developed. The stance is capped off by the chair of the oil and gas industry body PEPANZ, Cameron Madgwick. Mr Madgwick has gone on the record as saying that the industry would rather have certainty about the process going forward in 2018 than being offered a new block for exploration.

As it is, I have always believed that totally ridding New Zealand of oil and gas is never going to happen and that the Government will find itself being forced to make concessions of some sort or another. It will also find that its failure to acknowledge the lack of a nation-wide blue print for meeting New Zealand’s energy needs in the forseeable future proves problematic with no clear priorities, objectives for meeting those priorities or policies to give effect to the objectives, in place.

Even if New Zealand does meet its objectives, will it make any difference? I think New Zealanders are more conservative than Labour and the Greens are willing to admit when it comes to energy. Certainly people realize that a few significant policy decisions in major countries like India, China or the United States could lead to changes that completely undermine any in roads New Zealand makes in carbon emissions.

So, Labour can rush this Bill of Parliament through as it looks like they will try, but it is not a well crafted law and will cause them and their Green allies some significant headaches in the months and years to come.

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