Auckland 20/9/12: Greenpeace today hit back at Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley for his slight on those New Zealanders concerned about the Government’s rushed expansion of the fossil fuels sector in New Zealand.
Mr Heatley was quoted in the Taranaki Daily News this morning as saying that these people “are not really New Zealand. They have concerns but they are not really middle-class New Zealand (sic)". (1)
“Oil on our beaches is a concern of many so-called ‘middle-class’ New Zealanders, and rightly so,” says Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Steve Abel.
“And of course it should be pointed out that there are many people who may not meet Mr Heatley’s criteria for being ‘middle class,’ but who are still New Zealanders.
“Minister Heatley has demonstrated that he is primarily interested in representing the interests of the oil industry, not those of New Zealanders, many of whom have sensible and legitimate concerns about the risks of deep sea oil drilling. The dangers of deep sea oil are very real, and a threat to both our environment and our economy,” says Abel.
“New Zealanders saw what happened in the Gulf of Mexico, and many directly experienced the impact of the relatively small Rena oil spill in the Bay of Plenty. That was a wake-up call for many of us.
“Heatley has just done a ‘Mitt Romney’ to all those New Zealanders with legitimate concerns about oil washing up on their beaches. To refer to those New Zealanders as ‘not really New Zealand’, is like Mitt Romney writing off 47 per cent of US voters as not his concern,” (2) Abel says.