Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

John MacDonald: Shane Jones, I'm with the Lotus Eaters

Publish Date
Mon, 10 Jun 2024, 11:36am
The Greens blame a loophole in legislation for the announcement of new plans for drilling in NZ. Photo / NZ Herald
The Greens blame a loophole in legislation for the announcement of new plans for drilling in NZ. Photo / NZ Herald

John MacDonald: Shane Jones, I'm with the Lotus Eaters

Publish Date
Mon, 10 Jun 2024, 11:36am

Resources Minister Shane Jones was full of it when he was on Newstalk ZB this morning, talking about the Government's plan to lift the ban on oil and gas exploration. 

He said you and I have two choices.  

We can either go with the people he calls the "lotus-eaters". These are the people who are outraged that the Government is lifting the ban. People he says have been fed and swallowed the line about climate change, and oil and gas being the baddies. 

Or, he says,  we can go with the Government - which is going all “you can’t stop progress” on it. And I’ll tell you right now - I’m with the lotus eaters. And I’ll tell you why shortly.  

But a bit of background first. You’ll remember how, back in 2018, the former Labour-led government pulled the pin, saying it didn't make sense to crow about tackling climate change and - at the same time - allow the energy companies to keep plundering the natural environment. 

And, before the election last year, noises were made about ditching the ban. And, yesterday, the Government delivered. Or it announced or confirmed its intention to deliver, anyway. 

And the Government reckons it will have it across the line sometime later this year. 

Which has the energy companies delighted, of course. 

Someone who isn't delighted, though, is Megan Woods. She was Energy Minister back in 2018 when the Labour/NZ First coalition government put the kibosh on further exploration. 

Which Shane Jones claimed this morning took him and Winston by surprise. And he doesn’t want to take anyone by surprise this time around. Which is why the ban won't be lifted overnight but (as we say here in New Zealand), it will happen. 

So, as soon as the Government made the announcement yesterday, Megan Woods was on the attack saying the Government is continuing what she called “its mindless charge toward giving fossil fuel companies free reign”. 

She went on to say: “Climate change is the number one issue facing New Zealand, and Minister Jones is hell bent on ignoring options of energy that are future-proofed and up to global standards. 

“New Zealand is being taken backwards. This government is being cruel to future generations, this will take decades to undo – if the damage can be undone at all.” So that was the fiery talk from Megan Woods yesterday. 

Not surprisingly, the Green Party was just as fired up. 

Not that that has Shane Jones worried. He says the chopice is simple. Do you want tpo go with the Government or the lotus-eaters? 

I’m with the lotus eaters which, if you were listening to the conversation we had a few weeks back about extracting more minerals on the West Coast and here in Canterbury, you might think is a bit of a contradiction. 

Because I’m all in favour of us taking a look at what’s under the bonnet when it comes to minerals under the ground, because that’s where the future is. 

So much so, that middle eastern countries want to pour money into mineral extraction in Australia because they know that oil is a dead-end game to be involved in. Long term, anyway. 

And it’s for that very same reason that I think the Government is barking up the wrong tree giving the green light for more oil and gas exploration. It’s only doing it because it was part of the coalition deal. But it’s not going to attract that big investment Shane Jones seems to think it will. 

Because, in three years time, if we have a change of government, the ban will be back in place. And the energy companies will know that - and do you really think they’re going to fall for all the bluster and talk from Shane Jones? Of course, they won’t. 

And I think Shane Jones knows that himself too. But he can’t say it, of course. Because he was talking this morning about wanting to secure long-term contracts with oil and gas companies. Which smells to me like Rio Tinto and the aluminium smelter all over again. 

Because if these companies are going to sign long term contracts - knowing the political risk involved - then they are going to be wanting all the sweeteners in the world, aren’t they? 

And the Minister’s talk about securing long-term contracts is just code for New Zealand giving the oil and gas companies whatever they want, just to get some ink on the dotted line. 

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you