Greenpeace’s unlawful protest on the Skandi Atlantic in Timaru is misguided and misleading, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“The drilling being undertaken by the vessel is not for oil as Greenpeace is claiming. It is to unlock further natural gas reserves in a field that has been producing safely in New Zealand for over 50 years
“The Government’s ill-advised oil and gas ban has meant that New Zealand’s dependence on imported coal instead of natural gases has increased, raising emissions in the process.
“Greenpeace is trying to push natural gas exploration and production out of New Zealand, but these actions will only increase our dependence on imported coal and raise electricity prices.
“Natural gas keeps the lights on for New Zealand when our renewable generation isn’t able to.
“Wholesale electricity prices have already increased by an average of 60 per cent this year, mostly on the back of uncertainty of natural gas supply to electricity generators.
“National supports peaceful and lawful protest, but does not support boarding a vessel and impeding its lawful activities. I thank the police for responding immediately and expect them to uphold the law, while assuring the safety of all on board the Skandi Atlantic.”
The Government’s resources strategy is high on rhetoric, weak on reality and continues to send a signal to the world that New Zealand is closed for business, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“To call it a ten-year strategy is simply incredulous. If the Government was serious about its long-term implementation they would have consulted with the National Party from the outset to build an enduring framework.
“Instead we’ve been subjected to poorly thought-out policies like the oil and gas ban, which has created an environment where New Zealand businesses and industries have more expensive electricity with higher emissions. And it is only a matter of time before the increased prices hit households as well.
“Over the past two years the Government’s resources policy has led to a more than 600 per cent increase in coal-fired generation, meaning hundreds of thousands more tonnes of CO2 emissions are being pumped into the atmosphere.
“The Government’s belief that banning petroleum exploration is creating a clean, green and sustainable future is simply wrong and continues to be deceptive spin, evidenced by increased emissions.
“As well as that we have the permanent loss of 25 per cent of New Zealand’s offshore permits, which reduces economic opportunities and removes opportunities for New Zealand to switch from coal to lower emission natural gas.
“The ban on new mining on conservation land limits the resources New Zealand needs to grow its wealth and infrastructure as a country. The Government promised a discussion paper on this policy, but it has never seen the light of day.
“The strategy fails to promote the value of the resources sector. It is unbalanced to highlight the need to address society’s evolving expectations but remains passive on the vital economic contribution the resources sector makes to our society.
“We need a strategy that is based on world’s best practice in environmental stewardship, as well as promoting the economic and social opportunities the resources sector offers.”
Growing wholesale electricity costs are putting huge pressure on industrial and commercial consumers, and will likely hit households soon, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“I’ve spoken to a number of businesses who have experienced millions of dollars in increased power costs over the past year. This is heaping pressure onto their businesses and affecting their commercial sustainability.
“At the end of the day it will be everyday New Zealanders who shoulder the burden as energy costs are passed on to consumers when companies renew their electricity contracts.
“Rio Tinto has announced it will review the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter as electricity costs mean the business may no longer be commercially viable.
“Tiwai Point produces some of the most pure aluminium in the world with most of its electricity coming from a zero carbon source. If it stopped producing then world demand would be met by smelters with higher carbon emissions.
“The Government’s poor electricity policies have been the catalyst for these wholesale price increases, with the short-sighted oil and gas ban forcing prices up due to the tightness of our domestic supply of natural gas.
“The ban has also meant New Zealand has more than doubled the use of coal for generating electricity, which comes at a substantial cost as the coal has to be imported from Indonesia to meet demand.
“Add to this the 100 per cent renewable target that the Interim Climate Change Committee estimates will increase household electricity prices by $300 a year, and it’s clear this Government’s policies are driving up prices.
“The cost of living has steadily increased under this Government due to increased rent, fuel taxes and increasing electricity prices. New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.”
The Government’s response to the Electricity Price Review has failed to deliver meaningful savings for New Zealanders struggling with the rising cost of living, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“It is not good enough that the Government has failed to identify how much, if anything, these changes will reduce New Zealanders’ electricity bills by every year.
“Most of the changes merely tinker around the edges of the electricity market and won’t undo the damage caused by the Government’s failed energy policies.
“Some changes seem perverse and poorly thought through, such as removing prompt payment discounts while retaining late payment fees, which will punish people who pay their bills on time. These discounts can reduce electricity bills by up to $600 a year for the average household.
“The reckless decision to ban new oil and gas exploration will also increase weekly power prices for New Zealanders, increase global carbon emissions and risk our energy security.
“New Zealand already has one of the most renewable electricity markets in the world but the Government is pushing for 100 per cent renewable, which will see overinvestment in generation and could increase electricity costs by $300 a year for the average household.
“Despite initiating this review, there is no indication that New Zealand First is delivering on its election promises of restoring public ownership to Mixed Ownership Model gentailers, cancelling the transmission pricing methodology or transferring regulatory functions from the Electricity Authority to the Commerce Commission.
“National supports a competitive electricity market that is affordable, secure and reduces carbon emissions in the most efficient way possible.
“That is why we support some of the changes, such as greater transparency for the vertically integrated gentailers, improving liquidity in the electricity futures market, community level support for those in energy hardship, reducing barriers for consumers to switch retailers and removing the low fixed charge.”
The Coalition Government should be embarrassed that electricity generation using natural gas is declining, while generation using coal is increasing, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released their quarterly energy report, which shows a 19 per cent reduction in electricity produced by natural gas, but a whopping 62 per cent increase in electricity produced by coal over the last year.
“This makes New Zealand the only country in the world that is transitioning out of gas and into coal.
“MBIE advised the Minister of Energy on 10 April 2018 that gas reserves were at the lowest reserve to production level since 2003 and no new discoveries had been made since 2005.
“Two days later, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on future exploration permits.
“New Zealand is now paying the price for this reckless, ideological decision as our dependence on coal has actually increased.
“The Government refused to consult with the sector on the oil and gas ban, rejected advice from officials, and didn’t request any analysis from the Ministry for the Environment or the Treasury.
“National believes it is important to have a plan to reduce emissions. However, it makes sense to use natural gas as part of the energy mix as we transition to a lower emissions economy. We believe in science-based, practical solutions rather than costly and ineffective virtue-signalling.”
The Government’s 2019-2029 Minerals and Petroleum Strategy includes a ban on new mines on conservation land, bypassing the promised consultation process, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“The strategy claims the Government’s first goal in modernising the Crown Minerals Act will be to reflect their objective of having no new mines on conservation land.
“But the discussion document on banning new mines on conservation land is already one year late. To then announce the intention in the Government’s Minerals and Petroleum Strategy prior to any consultation process is a slap in the face for the minerals sector.
“Any consultation now will be hollow and in bad faith. Mining in New Zealand has a long history. The sector is mining responsibly, creating much-needed jobs in the regions, and revenue and resources for the country.
“Mining has always been banned on Schedule 4 land in the conservation estate, but much conservation land is in fact little more than scrub land with limited conservation value. That’s where the Government is intending to ban mining activity.
“Although the strategy paper claims not to be engaged in setting future policy positions, this is completely incongruous with creating an ideological framework that policy positions must be aligned to.
“It smacks of a ‘Yes Minister’ mentality.”
The Government continues to drag out its reporting back on the Electricity Price Review and that’s causing frustration and increasing uncertainty for the industry, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“Wholesale electricity prices are 64 per cent higher this year than they were at the same time last year, costing companies millions more in energy costs that will be passed on to Kiwi consumers when they come to renew their electricity contracts.
“The Government should have delivered its response by now, and has given no reason for the delay. And its reckless oil and gas ban will further push up prices as New Zealand has to import more of its energy.
“Energy Minister Megan Woods is now focussed on managing the Government’s failed KiwiBuild policy, but she needs to reassure the energy sector that she hasn’t dropped the ball.
“The best way to do that would have been to produce a response to the Electricity Price Review report in a far more timely manner.
“Delays like this aren’t new for this Government. The response to the 100% Renewable Generation by 2035 report was delayed for many months, and we’re still waiting for the report on the Refinery to Auckland Pipeline inquiry, which the Government took over a year to initiate after significant fuel shortages in Auckland.
“Whether it’s a matter of the Minister being too busy or other factors that are causing this delay, the sector needs certainty now.
“If the Government wants the electricity sector to lead on decarbonising energy, it needs to let the industry know what its expectations and regulations will be.”
Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods continues to ignore the fact her renewable electricity policy will see electricity prices rise which will hurt our most vulnerable, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“Ms Woods 100 per cent renewable electricity policy will see electricity prices increase from 14 per cent to 39 per cent. This means an extra $300 a year for the average Kiwi household.
“Increases in electricity prices will end up hitting low income households the most, particularly Māori and Pasifika households and vulnerable families in poor quality housing. These are the New Zealanders who are least able to afford this increase.
“The Interim Climate Change Commission report shows that the 100 per cent renewable target should be abandoned. Ultimately, the target will make life tougher for New Zealanders.
“The Minister has a track record of ignoring reports that disagree with her policies, whether it’s on the increase of emissions her oil and gas exploration ban will create, or the unaffordable costs for hydrogen as a fuel for industrial process heat.
“On this occasion, because the disagreement comes from the much vaunted Interim Climate Change Committee, Ms Woods is refusing to acknowledge their advice in Parliament.
“Not only are electricity prices increasing, but the Government has increased fuel taxes three times, rents are up an average of $50 a week, and the cost of living is increasing. Piling on costs to the Kiwis who are least able to afford them goes against the Government’s kind and caring motto.
“This is just another policy that is hurting Kiwis rather than helping. New Zealanders can’t afford this Government, and they definitely can’t afford Ms Woods renewable electricity policy, especially coming into winter.”
Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage has once again gone out against official advice, this time by rejecting the Overseas Investment Office application to purchase land for mining purposes, National’s Energy and Resources Spokesman Jonathan Young says.
“Minister Sage has declined the application for Oceana Gold to purchase 178 hectares of rural land for a new tailings reservoir near Waihi. By doing this she has once again put her ideology above the facts. She has approved almost every application that isn’t mining related.
“Economic Development Minister David Parker disagreed with Ms Sage’s decision, saying that the project would create ‘substantial and identifiable benefits’. This was also supported by the officials who advised her on the decision.
“This follows on from her decision to block Bathhurst Resources from purchasing 20 hectares of land for the Sullivan Mine, once again against advice from her officials. She was criticised then for showing bias against mining.
“This decision needs to be challenged. Oceana Gold has been an exemplary company operating in New Zealand and has brought long-term benefits to the communities they have worked in, by investing hundreds of millions of dollars into those local communities through employment and contracted services.
“To say there are no substantial and identifiable benefits to this land acquisition is to say that this company has not been of benefit to the communities it has operated in, which is far from the truth.
“Eugenie Sage needs to be either an anti-mining campaigner, or an objective and fair Minister of Land Information - she can’t be both.”
New Zealanders will end up poorer as a result of the Government’s ban on new oil and gas exploration, but they’ll have nothing to show for it in terms of slowing climate change, National’s Energy & Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.
“NZIER has done the analysis that the Government ought to have done before recklessly banning new oil and gas exploration. The ban may read as a step toward a low-carbon economy but this report says its biggest achievement will be to wipe $28 billion off GDP.
“As expected, the Taranaki region fares the worst. The ban will reduce the region’s economy by almost 50 per cent. That’s $21,000 a year in real purchasing power per household wiped out in Taranaki between now and 2050. Nothing the Government has announced goes anywhere near making up for that loss.
“The report makes clear the Government rushed in, without an audit on the economic costs to New Zealand. Now the industry has funded the work itself from NZIER – work that Minister Megan Woods should have ensured was done.
“So incomes are down, unlike emissions and New Zealand’s options to transition to low emissions have been reduced and will come with greater cost. Ordinary Kiwis and New Zealand businesses will feel it in rising electricity costs.
“Natural gas is a lower emission energy source than coal for significant industries that need high process heat.
“Dr Woods says the Government wants a shift to electricity or hydrogen but the transition to hydrogen as a fuel source could cost up to ten times more than natural gas, making some industries uneconomic and driving up power prices for families already having to stretch each dollar further.
“We all agree on the need to reduce emissions but drawing a roadmap to 2050 after you’ve made a wrong turn down a no exit road won’t get us there. National would repeal the ban and ensure all options are on the table to combat climate change and safeguard our economy.”