Today we learned that the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras has handed back its licence to drill for oil in the deep waters off the East Cape. And this news has been welcomed by those communities whose beaches and livelihoods were at risk from an oil spill and the pollution that comes from oil drilling. The cultural and environmental heritage of this beautiful, pristine part of Aotearoa is now safe.
However, this news should also be a wake-up call for Steven Joyce and his Cabinet colleagues who have pinned our economic hopes on the whims of overseas oil companies. Every effort has been made by this National Government to court some of the world’s most polluting industries, allowing them to damage the once proud reputation New Zealanders had by lobbying for the weakening environmental safeguards and demanding taxpayer handouts.
As Bill English said today; “the Government has invested a bit of time and money making sure that oil and gas exploration is attractive”. But it’s just not working, is it Bill.
Earlier this year, Anadarko announced they were delaying their drilling activities until the end of next year, perhaps the next, and now Petrobras has pulled out. It’s like a young John Key’s posted on Facebook that his parents have left him the keys to their bach and everyone’s invited to come drink Vermouth from their drinks cabinet, but nobody’s turned up.
And from an economic standpoint, this is good news. Not only because the risk of a catastrophic oil spill on our coastlines is reduced, but making the right choice for building a more prosperous economy has become easier.
The Government’s business growth agenda – the route map to National’s economic road to nowhere – is failing. They’ve bet the house on big oil to help them think big, but this is not what’s going to help raise the standard of living in New Zealand. Neither is diminishing our global reputation by weakening laws to favour our biggest polluters or undermining global efforts to tackle climate change. All of this will harm our economy, not strengthen it.
So now, as the Ministers stand around scratching their heads looking for excuses, it’s time for us all to demand that our Government make a different choice. One which will help us build a cleaner, smarter, more inclusive economy, that is supported by progressive business and industry and will help us grow a wealthier by reducing our pollution.
An economy which is built upon our greatest resources – our values and ability to innovate – and the bedrock of our world class renewable know how.
The Portuguese have a saying: ‘Cada carneiro por seu pé pende’ which roughly translates as ‘we must depend on ourselve’s, and perhaps if the Government started believing in our ability to build our own prosperous nation, we would be well on our way to a brighter future.