Kate Hawkesby: Where was the conversation on oil & gas?

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Friday, 13 April 2018, 7:22AM
No conversation with the industry was required in making the oil and gas decision. (Photo: NZ Herald)
No conversation with the industry was required in making the oil and gas decision. (Photo: NZ Herald)

Whatever you make of the government’s oil and gas decision will depend on your politics and I doubt an argument, either way, will change your mind.
What is of interest though, is how the decision was communicated.
Or more to the point, not communicated.

The irony being, this government has talked more than any other about the importance of ‘the conversation’.

How many times did we hear ‘let’s have a conversation’, ‘we’re interested to have that conversation’, 'a review will help us start the conversation’ out of the mouths of this government? Then suddenly the record changed.
Turns out no conversation at all was required in making the oil and gas decision.
No heads up, no dialogue, no conversation with the people most affected the oil and gas industry.

The government did say via Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources, that essentially the industry should have read the signposts.

Pardon? Is that how we’re rolling now? Reading signposts?
That’s a slight departure from a conversation.
It’s obviously too much to expect a courtesy heads up, so what signs did the industry not read?
Well for starters, the PM’s personal appearance on the steps of Parliament last month to accept a Greenpeace petition calling for an end to oil exploration.
Ardern said at the time that her government was actively considering the issue.
A sign, people, that’s a sign!
The media reported at the time that her appearance while keeping a dignatory here for a state visit waiting, was highly symbolic. Another sign!

Simon Bridges, clearly not good at reading signs, called the whole thing a quickly invented publicity stunt.
He called it a distraction. He said it was business as usual and that Labour would ‘make nothing more than process changes ’ "Mark my words" he said.
We are marking them Simon!
0 out of 10! So wrong! I hope you’re better at reading signs at home from your wife than you are political ones.
But for a government so keen on conversations, so willing to establish reviews and committees and hearings into just about everything, to have kept industry out of the loop, seems a bit odd.
Or as Act Leader David Seymour put it, arrogant.
He claimed a pattern that the government kept food executives in the dark over threats of a sugar tax, that charter schools were never visited or spoken to before threats to axe them, and that iwi weren’t consulted regards royalty charges on bottled water exports.
So is this all a ‘my way or the highway’ approach to governing? (And when I say highway, obviously I mean cycle lane.)

What they are very good at though, is playing to their base, as evidenced by the PM showing up at Victoria Uni yesterday to a captive audience of young Greens, so that the cheerleading was all that could be heard on the 6 o’clock news.
Let’s hope that cheerleading noise equates to numbers in the next poll.

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