Labour-Green oil and gas naivety questioned

The Government announcement last that no more off shore oil and gas exploration permits would be granted was celebrated by the Greens and their allies (like Greenpeace), but it hasn’t received wide support. Questions are being asked of the possible negative effects, and the lack of planning or substance on the transition from fossil fuels to alternative forms of energy.

Listener: Is the Govt’s ban on new oil and gas exploration brave or naive?

Just transition or heart over head?

The decision to stop issuing offshore oil and gas exploration permits was not pre-election policy. Although Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was musing privately months ago about the politics of such a move, it is barely a month since she broke from her formal programme to accept a petition from Greenpeace on the forecourt of Parliament.

Always with an eye to powerful imagery, Greenpeace backed the moment with pictures of history-changing Labour leaders of the past: Savage, Kirk, Lange and Clark. Ardern could enter that pantheon with a huge symbolic gesture designed to make real her claim that climate change is “this generation’s nuclear-free moment”.

She has done so, in a move that is at once measured and justifiable yet also naive and arguably cavalier with a major industry. No other country with a significant oil and gas industry has made such a decision.

…the naivety of the Government’s new policy is that it will not, of itself, reduce global carbon emissions, but could increase New Zealand’s if it leads to more coal use in the meantime.

It is disingenuous to claim that existing permits might sustain a healthy oil and gas sector until the 2040s. The fruitless hunt for major gas fields in the Great South Basin since the 1960s proves the point that exploration is expensive and usually unsuccessful.

But perhaps the biggest risk is the promise of a Government-led “transition” to new industries of the future. Airy ministerial talk of capital being redeployed to new activities is a carbon copy of Rogernomics-era rhetoric. Capital was redeployed, but not necessarily in New Zealand.

The Government is talking a big game on its ability to direct the emergence of such new industries, but its capacity to deliver this upside of transformative change is untested and the value of the industries it is disrupting is all too measurable.

While radical change was necessary then ‘Rogernomics’ was executed hurriedly with more hope or desperation than planning.

Tim Watkin takes the similarity with Rogernomics style reform-and-hope policies, as opposed to David Lange’s ‘anti-nuclear moment’ – Oil be alright. But has Labour learnt the wrong lesson from its past?

Jacinda Ardern has drawn on our national pride in New Zealand’s nuclear-free stance to rally support for her decision to end offshore oil drilling. But her announcement has echoes of Douglas and Prebble as much as Lange and Palmer

When Jacinda Ardern was asked to justify her government’s decision to stop issuing oil drilling permits forthwith she drew on a memory that sits deep in her party’s – and our country’s – soul. Our nuclear-free status. The decision for me, however, recalls another controversial move by that same fourth Labour government.

For Ardern and her team, so long out of government, it is a chance to do the sort of thing they expect Labour government’s to do. The moral thing. Policies that show vision and make the world a better place. What’s more, it shows leadership in the Pacific.

As with our nuclear-free policy, the decision to leave the oil where it is gives New Zealand the moral high ground, a sense of mission and it gets us noticed. It’s also similar in that it will also do next to nothing in the short term to change global behaviour or make the world safer.

Our nuclear-free stance has been largely symbolic, as will this stance be, unless or until the rest of the world follows suit.

Like Rogernomics, last week’s decision was announced with no real consultation and ruthless speed. There was no time for opponents to circle the tankers. Like Rogernomics, it moved Labour away from the safe centre and took it to the edge of mainstream politics. And like Rogernomics, they have shown no sign that they have planned for the consequences – forseeon or unforseen – of this policy.

Talk to members of the fourth Labour government today and few resile from the thrust of the economic reforms, but almost all wish they had done it differently. More slowly, with transition funding and re-training upfront. With more consultation. More commitment to not leaving some people on the scrapheap.

Sadly, there’s no sign this government has heeded that lesson. Not yet anyway. The announcement came with the zeal of the nuclear-free dream, but without the legwork. There was no transition fund announced. No plan to find new purposes for the people and their skills. No three year grace period, for example, in which the country’s fourth largest export-earning industry could start on what Greens co-leader James Shaw has promised will be a “gentle transition”.

One could forgive Shaw and the Greens for being naive, given their lack of experience in power. The same could be applied to Ardern – but as Prime Minister she should be better advised. She seems to have believed her lofty hype over leading a generational change on climate change.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the new Government was woefully unprepared for taking over. They have taken some quick and bold moves – like committing to major spending (handouts) for fee-free tertiary education – and leading the charge against climate change without any sign they know where this will take New Zealand economically.

But by embarking on this in a sudden, even sneaky, way and without a considered and consulted transition plan, it’s undermined the ‘what’ by buggering up the ‘how’. Labour has failed to learn from its own history. Or, at least, the part of its history Ardern says inspired this bold move. The question now is whether the government moves rapidly and with proper thought to live up to its promise of that “gentle transition”.

There is time for getting it right, or at least better and less risky, but there is no sign of this being recognised by the Government.

Another unlikely critic is Brian Fallow: Exploration ban a pointless, self-righteous policy

Resounding cheers greeted Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw when they went to Victoria University last Thursday to explain that morning’s announcement that no more offshore oil and gas exploration permits will be granted.

Gratifying to their ears, no doubt — but entirely undeserved.

This policy is self-righteous nimbyism, environmentally pointless, economically costly and politically counter-productive to the Government’s own agenda on climate change.

Tossing a trophy to the Green Party base, perhaps in the hope of reducing the risk that the Green vote gets wasted in 2020, smacks of ad hoc partisan politics as usual.

It is utterly at odds with the careful, consultative, consensus-seeking approach being pursued over the larger climate agenda.

James Shaw has set up a committee (according to National the 75th committee/group of this Government) to consult over climate change transition but as pointed out in Climate Change Committee announced, significant omissions this notably lacks direct representation from the key farmer and oil & gas industries.

Is there anyone in Labour capable of doing the hard work necessary to make such a transformative  policy work successfully without too many risks and adverse effects?

With Shaw in charge of the Climate Change ministry the only Labour MP (apart from Ardern) with related responsibilities is Megan Woods as Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister of Science and Innovation, things that will be (or should be) a prominent part of the climate change/fossil fuel transition.

73 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  April 20, 2018

    I know, Pete, it hurts but you’ll look back on this with feelings of pride once you grasp its significance. I see the panel assembled to examine our climate change responsibilities is causing similar angst amongst the slow-to-adapt, but again, you’ll look back on these early days of positive action with pride; at last, we are facing the problem head-on, rather than turning our backs, or plunging our heads into the sand.

    • Gerrit

       /  April 20, 2018

      Problem will be to turn the talk fest into action. And if that action plan will meet with voters approval.

      Yep, great they are having a talk fest, but it is far from any “positive action” being undertaken.

      The Lange “nuclear free” initiative was easy to undertake as it had no effect on the economy of New Zealand.

      Whatever the talk fest comes up with will have economic repercussions and as such the electorate will have a far larger input in the talk fest recommendations being enacted into law.

      Loooooooooooooooooooooooooong …way to go.

      • Blazer

         /  April 20, 2018

        ‘The Lange “nuclear free” initiative was easy to undertake as it had no effect on the economy of New Zealand.’…easy to say in hindsight…the U.S and other historical allies were not impressed and the right were vocal about the..’dire consequences’….as usual.

        • Gerrit

           /  April 20, 2018

          Whilst they were not impressed with the symbolism, there were no consequences on the voting public to overly concern the voting pattern of the electorate. A safe labour decision.

          Am not sure it will be the case for the talk fest recommendations that may make it for debate and legislation in the parliament.

          Any recommendations that will sting the local voter whilst not having any physical impact on climate change worldwide, except for righteous symbolic reasons (look at us in NZL, we are doing the right thing to stop 0.002% carbon emissions.) is going to be enacted.

          Looking forward to the recommendations and to see if the proposals are “bad” enough to create a strategic scenario where Labour are can gain the wavering Greens non SJW vote and thus push the Greens under 5%.

          • Blazer

             /  April 20, 2018

            while you’re there Gerrit….who owns oil in the ground/sea in NZ?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 20, 2018

              The Greens?

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              Who owns the water in our rivers and lakes?

            • Blazer

               /  April 20, 2018

              the ‘too hard’ question studiously avoided by the usual…suspects.

            • Gerrit

               /  April 20, 2018

              The state on behalf of the people. The state sells licenses to explore and upon extraction a royalty for volume taken.

              Now the state may decide that to leave the oil/gas/coal/water in the ground however they face the voters every three years.

              Pretty simple…really.

            • Gerrit

               /  April 20, 2018

              Back at you…who owns the sunlight?

            • Blazer

               /  April 20, 2018

              @Gerrit…well here it comes…why should water be any…different?

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              The State has decided to end new off-shore exploration – why the fuss about that, Gerrit? You seem otherwise fine with them owning oil and water and making decisions about their use?

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              Still with the “owns” thing, Gezza, jeeeze !

            • Gezza

               /  April 20, 2018

              😳

            • Gezza

               /  April 20, 2018

              WTF are you on about?

          • Gerrit

             /  April 20, 2018

            Water is owned by the state on behalf of ALL the people…as I said.

            Currently they are benign owners, letting it flow where it may with limited restriction on who may take what in relation to water flow further down the creek.

            • Gerrit

               /  April 20, 2018

              So the unanswered question is… who does own the sunlight?

            • Blazer

               /  April 20, 2018

              National says NO ONE owns water.There has been no levy on foreign companies extracting and exporting..it…!

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              You’re snagged on this ownership thing, Gerrit – who has responsibility of guardianship over this and that would be a more fruitful way to look at things.

            • Gerrit

               /  April 20, 2018

              Link?

              National said NO ONE person can own water (my interpretation) however the state on behalf of ALL people can control the water resource without ownership as in legal terms. For to set ownership rights involves setting a price on the value and trading right, not to mention the unwinnable battle for water ownership under TOW claims.

              Next question…or answers to mine.

            • Blazer

               /  April 20, 2018

              @Gerrit..the answer to yours is…UNILEVER.Now why would we charge for oil,but not for water ,as National policy dictates?

            • Te Tiriti o Waitangi

            • Gezza

               /  April 20, 2018

              Whoever created it owns the water. I reckon they meant it for everyone who needs it in the land it flows through.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              “For to set ownership rights involves setting a price on the value…”
              No. “Price” – whatareya?

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              “National said NO ONE person can own water”
              Your interpretation was well wide of correct, Gerrit, what were you thinking??? – one person??? Which person were you (or National) meaning???
              What nonsense.

            • Gerrit

               /  April 20, 2018

              Grammar police? Just for Robert — No single person or single entity outside off the state can own the water.

              Am sure you will find some spelling and grammatical errors. Let me know if you have trouble with the interpretation.

    • Grimm

       /  April 20, 2018

      Hardly anyone votes for the Greens, largely because they present as smug, arrogant and hypocritical. But you have to concede that they mirror their base impeccably.

      • robertguyton

         /  April 20, 2018

        They’re
        in
        power.
        Thank you.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  April 20, 2018

          No…they aren’t:
          The current government, since October 2017, is the Sixth Labour Government. It is a coalition between Labour and New Zealand First, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The minority government is reliant on the support of the Green Party in order to command a majority in the House of Representatives through a confidence and supply agreement.
          The Greens are propping up but not part of the government.

          • robertguyton

             /  April 20, 2018

            Not propping up, leading by the nose – everyone here knows that!

            • Gezza

               /  April 20, 2018

              Yup it seems so. So, uptick for that one.

      • phantom snowflake

         /  April 20, 2018

        I’m not a Green Party supporter but am tired of the ongoing smearing of the party and its supporters on this site. Today it’s “smug, arrogant and hypocritical”. As this describes precisely none of the many Green Party supporters I know, my conclusion is that you too are “making shit up.” The stereotype that you and ‘the usual suspects’ describe lives in your minds not in the “Real World!”

        • phantom snowflake

           /  April 20, 2018

          Oops, the bold text was a fail…

          • Gezza

             /  April 20, 2018

            Why aren’t you a Green party supporter?

            • Gezza

               /  April 20, 2018

              (PS: I thought the bold worked very well 🙄 )

            • phantom snowflake

               /  April 20, 2018

              They’re a bit too mainstream, centrist, middle class bourgeois, counterrevolutionary even (haha) for my liking. Now people are gonna think I’m a communist. Oh Well…

            • Gezza

               /  April 20, 2018

              😮 Jesus Christ!

              Keep your head down, snowy! You could be one of the first on the list when they seize control and come for you with the pitchforks, the tumbrils, and their homespun knitting. 😕

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              The bold was spot-on.

        • robertguyton

           /  April 20, 2018

          Thank you, phantom snowflake, your clarity of thought is recognised and appreciated.

        • PDB

           /  April 20, 2018

          PS: ’I’m not a Green Party supporter but am tired of the ongoing smearing of the party and its supporters on this site. Today it’s “smug, arrogant and hypocritical”.

          I know one Green supporter on this very site that seems to fit the description very well – if anything that description is far too kind. The same person that also smears other parties and their supporters with generalised nonsense & is solely on this site to disrupt rather than add to the debate but that is not questioned by Phantom Snowflake….selective outrage perhaps?

          • phantom snowflake

             /  April 20, 2018

            Oh great! You’ve reinstated your “Shoot on Sight” Policy! Best you stick to what you’re good at, dear. Which seems to be sleaze, smut and innuendo lately. We shouldn’t be surprised, as that’s how you literally made your name (as ‘Pantsdownbrown’) during the ‘Len Brown Affair‘. Newsflash: the 50s are long gone and few of us give a flying fuck (lol) about the sexual indiscretions of our politicians and their partners.. Just you and your buddy Cameron, mostly.

            • PDB

               /  April 20, 2018

              Hilarious! You come out in support of Greenies getting unfairly abused on here and then attack me with a whole lot of nasty accusations….your hypocrisy knows no bounds! You’re the same person that accused me of hating poor people and assumed (wrongly) that I was part of the rich set. No doubt any centre-right person like myself is seen by you as some far-right extremist.

              Then you mention ‘“Shoot on Sight” Policy!’ whilst posting in reply nothing that actually relates to my valid criticism of your post – the fact you are selectively outraged over the smearing of the Greens on here but apparently if a greeny (or any left-winger on here) is doing the same on this very same site that’s apparently all good by you.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  April 20, 2018

              PDB: Your claimed hilarity is utterly incongruent with the tone of your comment. More self-awareness required. Every day sees claims of hypocrisy on this blog; boring and cliched! “hating poor people”? For real?. Go on, show me, make an arse of me if you can, I won’t melt…

            • PDB

               /  April 20, 2018

              AGAIN you fail to answer my valid criticism of your comment – that of selective outrage and then on top of that hypocritically accusing me of being a friend of the idiot Slater….does the truth hurt?

            • phantom snowflake

               /  April 20, 2018

              Damn, PDB, “EXPLAINING IS LOSING” (George Bush, John Key, Cameron Slater et.al.) Not responding in the way you demand is a tactic! But again,do feel free to show me where I accuse you of hating poor people.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  April 20, 2018

              Actually, PDB, don’t worry about it, I found it myself. Here’s the thread where I DON’T say that you hate the poor:

              https://yournz.org/2018/02/18/bridges-hopeless-off-script/

            • PDB

               /  April 20, 2018

              What that does show is your lack of providing answers to valid questions/ criticisms when backed into a corner. Put it this way what is worse on this blog;

              A. One person in a comment dissing the Greens as “smug, arrogant and hypocritical”.
              B. Another person (rabid Greens supporter) coming on here (who strangely fits the above description bang on) who proudly admit they are only here to disrupt the blog and troll the site owner whilst taking advantage of the free speech ethos the owner of this blog promotes which is not afforded on such blogs as Whaleoil, or more particularly ‘The Standard’ where this person comes from. The same site that has banned the owner of this site on more than one occasion.

              Personally I don’t really give a toss about either but you have chosen to attack one and not the other.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  April 20, 2018

              I’m gonna go with:

              C. Another person (Rabid Rightie) who insists that I just have to condemn the words of Person B. above coz otherwise it’s just not fair! Waaaaaaa!

            • PDB

               /  April 20, 2018

              Give yourself a D: Far left-winger in denial crying about anti-green sentiment on this site and then accusing a person of being a right-wing cry-baby. Snowflake by name, snowflake by nature.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  April 20, 2018

              Thanks, that’s great, really affirming.

          • robertguyton

             /  April 20, 2018

            “Pantsdownbrown” – revelation! makes you look, PDB, ugly – “sleaze, smut and innuendo” – that’s damning – I feel faint – I’ve been debating with a Cam-clone!
            Ewww!

            • PDB

               /  April 20, 2018

              Wouldn’t lose sleep over it Guyton – I’ve only been highly critical of Slater on all my posts here so you can get back to your afternoon nana nap. The only person you have been ‘debating’ with is yourself as I’ve seen no evidence that you possess such skills on this site. Do you live under a bridge by any chance?

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              I won’t, “P” , lose sleep, that is, over you. Slater and you – pals, yes? – seems so. Can’t hide your oiliness, no matter how you try. Phantom’s busted you and you look…silly…,as a result. Time to retire? I think so. Maybe a guest spot on WOBF? Slater will welcome you with open pincers. Go, “P”, GO !!!

            • PDB

               /  April 20, 2018

              Don’t panic Guyton – nobody could ever appear as silly as you do, and on such a consistent basis.

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              You’re running a convincing second, PDB!

  2. robertguyton

     /  April 20, 2018

    “…last week’s decision was announced with no real consultation and ruthless speed. There was no time for opponents to circle the tankers.”

    Nice.

      • robertguyton

         /  April 20, 2018

        A half-quote, Pete. Here’s the rest:
        “This means cleaning up politics to ensure the influence of money is not allowed to distort our democratic system.
        It also means increasing transparency, so New Zealanders know what is going on and who is influencing the decision-makers.”
        In other words…protecting New Zealanders from the undue influence and power of Big Oil.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  April 20, 2018

          Curran wasn’t too keen on transparency and the Greens helped bury and hide her body. Actions speak louder than words.

        • Ray

           /  April 20, 2018

          Seven comments Robert as compared with 19 on yesterdays climate posting, it’s good we have you to shed some light on Green policies but if you read them again even you will see the error in that statement.
          I would be impressed if the Greens walked the walk rather than demanding us, the peasants, have to make all the big changes.
          Just examine which party,all whose MPs are list members, rack up the air miles.
          Oh except when with much fanfare they make a one way bike ride to Invercargill 🤢

          • Griff

             /  April 20, 2018

            What big changers ray?
            They have only stopped issuing new permits for oil and gas exploration.
            We don’t use what oil there is here it all gets exported.
            There are still plenty of current permits to explore for gas and enough for at lest a decade in current know reserves.

            Any thing found in a new permit area would be twenty years away from development even if they did mange to actually find something. By then the globe will be a long way along the road to carbon free.
            Gas found in the future will be a stranded asset with no value .

            This debate is full of hyperbole and bullshite from the right wing.
            Because of this their views can be disregarded until such time they are based on reality not over active imaginations.

          • robertguyton

             /  April 20, 2018

            The Greens think of “you” as “the peasants” – get a grip, Ray!!!
            We’re the peasants, for gosh’s sake!!!

            • robertguyton

               /  April 20, 2018

              You’re ‘air-miles” thing is de minimus , Ray – get over it. Think clearly, shed you dross-thinking and join us in saving humanity (we’ve fallen into a hole – we need you !

  3. unitedtribes2

     /  April 20, 2018

    Im wondering if they are planning to not renew the lease at the aluminium plant in ten years to take up the slack of energy shortage

    • Gerrit

       /  April 20, 2018

      No doubt the plant is nearing the end of its life cycle and will be closed in due time. However getting the Manapouri generated electricity to the biggest customer grouping (Upper North Island) is going to cost hugely, not just in new infrastructure cabling but also in transmission losses.

      Would it not be better to divert some of Shane Joneses regional development budget to making the south of the South Island a business destination? Maybe move some state administration functions from Wellington to places south?

      Lets move WINZ head office to a place like Riverton. An 8 story tower block in the main street plus 1000’s of new WINZ employee settlers would greatly increase that local economy.

      • robertguyton

         /  April 20, 2018

        I’ve started pouring concrete already, Ray! Bring it on! Actually, we’re busy enough now. How about Orepuki?

        • Ray

           /  April 20, 2018

          I thought concrete was verboten due to its high carbon footprint, shame on you Robert.
          An 8 story wooden structure would not only be a carbon sink but if it was the Worlds largest could be a tourist trap to those few tourists left who sail the roaring 40s in their carbon free sailing ship. Win, win.

        • Gerrit

           /  April 20, 2018

          Concrete made from mined aggregate (mines bad), sand extracted from the Aparima and Pourakino Rivers (dirty cloudy rivers), and cement made from a gas fired kilns (no gas allowed) from limestone mined (bad mines again) out of the West Coast.

          Concrete is not very green at all.

          • robertguyton

             /  April 20, 2018

            Agreed: let’s not do that. Stop your taunting, Gerrit and Ray, make some real suggestions. “K”?

  1. Labour-Green oil and gas naivety questioned — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition