Eugenie Sage has questions to answer on her reasons for turning down the sale of the Sullivan Mine on the West Coast to Bathurst Coal Limited against the advice of overseas investment officials, National Party Energy and Resources Spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“Ms Sage needs to give an absolute assurance that her views as Conservation Minister and as a Green Party MP have not coloured her statutory role as Minister for Land Information,” Mr Young says.
“Bathurst is a significant investor on the West Coast and Southland, creating jobs and economic activity in each region.
“They have been allowed to purchase land previously at Nightcaps. What has changed in the meantime apart from the arrival of Ms Sage on the scene?”
Mr Young says that the Sullivan mine, while currently closed, is an existing mine.
“Therefore suggestions that it would not be available for mining under the Government’s policy of no new mining, is incorrect.
“Or is Ms Sage and her supporters now effectively saying that the sale of any mine now constitutes ‘new mining’ by the purchaser?
“There is already a concern amongst investors that this Government has put the shutters up for new overseas investment in regional New Zealand. If that were the case it would mean fewer job opportunities and regional stagnation, after a period of good growth.
“Ms Sage needs to properly explain why she rejected official advice and turned this sale down. She needs to be absolutely clear that she isn’t conflicted in making this decision.”
National Party Energy and Resources Spokesperson Jonathan Young is calling on the Government to make a positive decision on access for the Te Kuha Mine after visiting the site recently.
“The Te Kuha Mine is a crucially important regional development opportunity for Westport and the Buller region,” Mr Young says.
“Fifty-eight high paying jobs would make a big difference to a region that’s had some tough times. And those pay packets will flow into more jobs in the retail and service sectors in Westport.
“It’s a big deal for the town, and local MP Damien O’Connor should be supporting it.
“The Government’s new policy that will stop new mining on DOC land needs to be rejected. While National agrees that there should be no mining on schedule four land, not all DOC land has high conservation value, and modern mining ensures sites are rehabilitated with net environmental benefits to the region.
“A 497 hectare biodiversity management and habitat enhancement programme will be developed adjacent to the mine as well as a further 5000 hectare programme off-site.
“It’s important to understand that the high-grade metallurgical coal from this mine can be used for the development of products like activated carbon used in filters for water and air purification and in kidney dialysis machines.
“Te Kuha coal is most likely to be used for steel production. Today’s renewable electricity infrastructure requires high quality steel. Whether it is for wind, hydro or geothermal turbines, high pressure water and steam piping, or the cables electricity runs through, it’s definitely still part of our future.
“The West Coast coal fields are New Zealand’s only known source of metallurgical (coking) coal, which is valued internationally for its low ash and sulphur content. The world still needs this high quality coal, and will use it in a myriad of ways – other than burning it for heat.
“The Government is incredibly myopic if they think closing down the opportunity to extract such high grade coal is in the best interests for New Zealand or the West Coast, or will accelerate us to a net zero carbon future. That future needs the high quality products Te Kuha coal can create.”
There are serious inaccuracies in the Prime Minister’s recent comments about the lack of consideration of environmental factors when permitting new mines and petroleum exploration and production, National Party spokesperson for Energy and Resources Jonathan Young says.
“The Government is simply wrong in claiming that environmental factors are not considered already, and that these industries are operating recklessly with little regard to any environmental impacts.
“Mining consents go through a rigorous environmental scrutiny, as do petroleum permit applications.
“What is alarming is that it appears the Government are using this as a reason to move the decision to approve permits away from a scientific approach into the hands of the Minister of Energy and Resources. This is just not acceptable.
“This is completely the opposite approach to the Government’s proposal to give the Commerce Commission independent market study powers so Ministers don’t interfere.
“The Government seem to be looking for any excuse to close down industries that that make a huge contribution to regions like Taranaki and the West Coast.
“We need less emotive rhetoric and better factual information to steady our steps to the low emission future the Government are seeking.
“With the loss of wealth to the Crown, to businesses and to individuals in regions like Taranaki and the West Coast – the transition to a low emission future in New Zealand will only be further away.”
The new Government needs to follow through on the previous Government’s actions to ensure New Zealanders are paying a fair and reasonable price for petrol, National Party Energy and Resources Spokesman Jonathan Young says.
“With petrol prices increasing three times since the change of Government and a regional petrol tax of 11.5 cent a litre for Auckland motorists on its way; this work is even more important,” Mr Young says.
“Megan Woods can’t be asleep at the wheel when it comes to petrol prices for New Zealanders, especially coming up to the Christmas and holiday season.
“The South Island and Wellington were identified as possibly subsidising more competitive regional pricing, and those motorists will want to know this isn’t the case, or that it will be addressed.
“The National Government agreed at Cabinet to grant market studies power to the Commerce Commission, enabling them to access data that would show a more complete picture of the competitive mechanisms affecting the pricing of petrol.
“The Ministry of Business Employment and Innovation are due to report back today on the initial ‘Fuel Market Financial Performance Study’. Fuel retailers Z Energy, BP, Mobil and Gull response to the study were due 31 October 2017.
“In July Megan Woods criticised the then Minister of Energy And Resources saying ‘it is time for the Commerce Commission to do its job’.
“As the new Minister she now needs to live up to her own rhetoric and get a better deal for Kiwi motorists.
“At the moment prices are going completely the wrong way under her Government.”
National Party Energy and Resources Spokesperson and MP for New Plymouth Jonathan Young has welcomed the Government’s decision to grant permits for seismic surveying in the Taranaki offshore basin, but is concerned about the potential for tightening of the regime in future.
“It’s great that the Crown Minerals Act, and its regulatory regime has not been subverted by the emotive rhetoric of Greenpeace. I am however concerned at the comments by the Prime Minister about changing the law in future and will watch these developments closely.
“Seismic surveying offshore is an established practice with strict requirements laid down in DOC’s code of conduct, developed by scientists and overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency. With these science-based procedures set in place, marine habitats are protected from any adverse effects of seismic surveying.
Mr Young says natural gas remains a crucial transition fuel as we move towards a low carbon economy in the future.
“Natural gas is cited as the reason why the USA has significantly reduced its emission levels, as coal fired electricity generation is converted to gas fired. Gas has been identified as the "transition fuel" between what has been and what is to come in a more developed renewable energy world.
“While the current Government has a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, the reality is that transition will take time as technology, infrastructure and economics make it possible.
“It’s also important to remember that New Zealand’s gross emissions are approximately 0.16 per cent of total world emissions, with New Zealand’s energy profile, being both liquid fuels and electricity generation through fossil fuels being 40 per cent of that, or .064 per cent of world emissions.
“The Government needs to make sound sensible science-based decisions around natural gas and ignore the emotional pressures from Greenpeace.”
Braving multiple seasons in one day including a snow capped mountain, New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young hosted Finance Minister Hon Steven Joyce to complete the Pouakai Crossing.
This 19km crossing located on Mt Taranaki, traverses around the north side of the mountain, down into the Ahukawakawa Wetlands and up and over the Pouakai Ranges to end at Mangorei Road.
Joined by 12 other keen trampers including New Plymouth District Council Mayor Neil Holdom, the group set out with Top Guides Shuttle who have been increasingly busy over the last few weeks with visitors keen to experience the crossing.
Senior DOC Ranger Dave Rogers kept the group regaled with stories of volcanic lava flow, the Kokowai stream running red, the old summit tracks and Iwi history.
“The stories all intertwine as you make your way through changing landscapes around the incredible Mt Taranaki and Pouakai Ranges” says Young. “It’s not just the natural beauty, it’s the history and the stories that make this place so special.”
"Increasing the tourism potential for Taranaki has been one of my key drivers in the last few years” says Young.
"It’s important we keep developing world class opportunities for the visitors coming to New Zealand, and the Pouakai Crossing can be one of those. Apart from the great experience people have in walking the Pouakai Crossing, it will also help alleviate the pressure other prominent one day walks are experiencing, such as the Tongariro Crossing, which currently sees over 100,000 visitors a year.
I was very pleased Steven Joyce was able to experience this and see the beauty and potential of our National Park.