The Green Party is big on transparency. There is a lengthy list of issues about which the Greens have called for inquiries in the last few months. They are obviously keen to get to the bottom of all sorts of things.
But they aren't so keen on transparency when it's a little closer to home. Green MP Gareth Hughes has been at the forefront of the quest for inquiries and moratoria, but he suffered something of a setback yesterday.
He questioned Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley about fracking in Taranaki. During the Hughes version of the Spanish Inquisition, this supplementary question was asked and answered:
Jonathan Young: What reports has he seen of the Taranaki Regional Council’s response to allegations in relation to fracking in Taranaki?Hon PHIL HEATLEY: Well, I have seen a letter written by the chief executive of the Taranaki Regional Council in May to the Taranaki Daily News that states this: “One of Mr Hughes’ statements is an exaggeration going far beyond the facts as they stand, and the other two of his statements defy the facts altogether … An informed and considered public discussion of the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing deserves better than this. The public has the right to expect integrity in such discussions.”
We would agree wholeheartedly with the CEO of the Taranaki Regional Council. The public does indeed have the right to expect integrity from MP's commenting on important issues such as this.
But the matter didn't end there, as Hansard records:
Gareth Hughes: I seek leave to table the Ngaere water study by Hill Laboratories on behalf of Taranaki Regional Council, and I also seek leave to table its covering information statement from its website, which shows that the report the Minister referenced happened at one well site, not the 30-plus—Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those two documents. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
- Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I seek leave to table a letter from the only independent authority in this debate, the Taranaki Regional Council, and its not-so-flattering comments about Gareth Hughes’ representation—Mr SPEAKER: Order! Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Goodness! MP's from the opposition benches usually hoot with derision when a government MP or Minister refuses leave for an incriminating document to be tabled. And surely you would expect that the Greens would want all available information laid on the Table of the House. No; apparently not.
However thanks to the good folk who maintain the Hansard record of proceedings in the House, the Hon Phil Heatley's reply to Jonathan Young's supplementary question has been recorded for posterity, however much of an inconvenient truth it may be for Mr Hughes. Transparency is indeed a good thing!