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The Government’s rush to ban new offshore oil and gas exploration is hurting the economy and doing nothing for global carbon emissions, while Australia stands ready to top up our energy needs, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“The Prime Minister may be hoping to boast about the ban when she meets other APEC leaders next month. But our nearest neighbour is more likely to see it as an opportunity to add New Zealand as a customer for its liquified natural gas (LNG).

“Australia’s LNG exports reached a record high in 2017 and are forecast to exceed that this year on its way to becoming the world’s biggest exporter of the fuel. By contrast, New Zealand’s gas supply may fall below demand as soon as 2021 – well before there are enough alternative fuel options to fill the gap.

“Rather than reduce global emissions, the Government’s muddle-headed ban may increase them through carbon leakage, where New Zealand-based production falls away and other internationally based production replaces it with a dirtier carbon footprint. It’s a form of Nimby syndrome that only makes it worse for the planet.

“The Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill is such a notable example of bad law it would make a good case study for students of politics. The ban was announced without consultation, against the recommendations of officials and then the public and industry were given a tiny window to make their views known.

“As a result, the Bill achieves none of its objectives while inflicting damage on our economy that may run into the tens of billions of dollars. The lack of certainty about gas supply as a result of the ban has already scared off investment and will result in more coal being burned. The ban reduces our energy security and will stoke electricity prices.

“There’s a good reason carpenters have a saying ‘measure twice, cut once’. New Zealand’s complex energy needs also require careful measuring and thorough analysis, as we prepare to transition to a low-carbon economy. The Government’s approach amounts to ignorance and negligence.

“A National Government will reverse the ban. It is essential to reduce emissions but the best route will include innovation from the hydrocarbon sector, with new technologies, new energy sources, and consultation with all stakeholders including iwi, and with proper regard for New Zealand’s economic prosperity.

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