Exploration not such a golden opportunity

The government appears to be drawing its economic strategy from reruns of the “Beverly Hillbillies” - crossing its fingers and blindly hoping it will strike oil, Labour’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Moana Mackey says.

A long overdue and much touted government report on the “benefits, impacts and risks” of petroleum development across the East Coast was released today. It shows that based on geological analysis and economic modelling commercial petroleum development in the region is highly unlikely.

“The East Coast Oil and Gas Development Study is yet another blow to the Government's flawed economic development strategy following on from decisions by Exxon-Mobil, Petrobras and Apache to abandon projects in New Zealand.

"When will the government learn that putting all its eggs in this one basket is not working, and that by continuing to do so, it is selling the provinces short?

"The report is also light on economic analysis. It estimates that between 200 and 2000 jobs will be created. That sounds suspiciously like ‘pick a number’ to me.

“And claims that half of those new jobs will go to locals are surprising given that successive companies have either refused to promise or flatly ruled out guarantees of local employment in East Coast projects.

"The government should be looking at every opportunity to grow existing businesses in provincial New Zealand and develop new sustainable industries that create well-paid local jobs.

“On the East Coast, repairing and maintaining the Gisborne to Napier rail line is the first thing it could do to support local exporters and reduce risk for businesses shipping product in and out of the region.

"The potential for sustainable economic development is there, all that is lacking is the political will from the government.”