Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods reportedly defended the Government’s decision not to issue new offshore oil and gas exploration permits despite it going against official advice.
She was reported by the website NewsroomPro as saying she didn’t think officials had taken into account the “changing world we live in.”
At Parliament's economic development, science and innovation select committee this week, National MPs pushed Woods on the block offer decision, which the opposition has described as economic vandalism and has said it would reverse the policy when it returns to power.
NewsroomPro said documents released under the Official Information Act showed the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) advised Woods to continue to allow oil and gas companies to apply for exploration permits, but to limit that to onshore and offshore Taranaki.
Dr Woods told the select committee she didn’t agree with the official advice, as it was premised on production moving to China which “simply isn’t possible under the cap and trade system” which China has introduced.
“If there was to be a move in production to China, that would have to be a substitution for emissions that are already being made. It wouldn’t be additional, so that argument doesn’t hold water,” she reportedly said.
The Minister said there hadn’t been a cost-benefit analysis on the decision because Treasury’s model wasn’t capable of considering “unknown unknowns” - the economic consequences of rejecting bids which have not yet been made.
All three coalition partners had been involved in the decision. New Zealand First has faced criticism from its supporters over the decision, with concerns about what it will mean for the regional economies in affected areas, particularly Taranaki.
Dr Woods said the issue had been taken to the caucuses of the three individual parties, and “had a higher level of discussion around it” than most decisions.