Further evidence shows that the Government’s sudden change in approach to offshore exploration opens it up to the risk of legal challenge, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“At a time of already plummeting business confidence it’s becoming more and more clear that the Prime Minister’s hasty decision to end new offshore permitting was not only ill-thought through but was also inconsistent with the law.
“That was confirmed in Parliament today when Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods confirmed that she did not make a statutory decision before the Prime Minister sprung this backwards decision on New Zealanders.
“It knew this was an issue before the announcement because the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had told the Government was at risk of a legal challenge, and we know these avenues are now being actively explored by the businesses unfairly affected.
“That’s because around $150 million had been committed in good faith to seismic surveying of offshore areas in the months ahead of the exploration ban announcement, activity which was signed off by Ms Woods, only for this bad decision to be dumped on them out of nowhere.
“The announcement has created real uncertainty around whether these firms will now be able to secure a return on their significant investments. How can businesses have any confidence to invest here when the Government acts in this way?
“What’s more, the Government knows its announcement was inconsistent with the Crown Minerals Act, which is why it is undergoing the charade of creating a statutory framework for a decision it made months ago. The Government knows it got it wrong.
“This is an unacceptable way of doing business with a sector that contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to the New Zealand economy and employs thousands of New Zealanders.
“Now New Zealand will have to bear the financial and reputational costs associated with a third world way of doing businesses – all because the Prime Minister wanted to time the announcement for her trip to Europe.
“It’s little wonder business confidence in New Zealand is plummeting.”