Northland-based Labour list MP Shane Jones has again hit out at the Green Party for opposing development of the regions's resources, including oil and gas, which he says could help reduce spiralling Maori unemployment.
Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley this week announced which areas, including a large section of seabed off Ninety Mile Beach, would be opened up for oil and gas exploration next year. He said the Government had begun consultation with relevant iwi.
Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes said the Government was "gambling with New Zealand's economy" by allowing the exploration in deep water, "because if there is a leak there is no sure way to stop it".
Promotion of the petroleum industry was "not a smart way to run the economy", he said.
But Mr Jones, who has clashed with the Greens before over the prospect of mining in Northland and also over the party's criticism of the fishing industry, said Mr Hughes' opposition was premature.
"Let the information be uncovered first. It may be that the area is commercially barren, not unlike the minds conceiving that Green rhetoric."
Jones is absolutely right; let's do the exploration. And if it shows that there is a viable oil field off the west coast of Northland, let's go through the process of planning to extract it safely.
But Jones isn't done:
Mr Jones did not think the prospects of any significant oil and gas industry in Northland in the short term were high, "but in the absence of information you can guarantee you'll never see it up there".
"Let these decisions be made in a rational fashion, not this kneejerk emotionalism that one comes to expect from the Green Party."
With Maori unemployment in some parts of Northland running at more than 25 per cent, it was important that the potential to develop new industries in the region was explored.
One need only look towards Taranaki - the self-proclaimed "energy province" - to see what prosperity can be brought to a region when new industries based around oil and gas are established. We have a number of friends working in Taranaki in roles that support the energy companies; engineering, instrumentation, design and consultancy. They owe their commercial success to far-sighted decisions made a few decades ago.
Northland is in desperate need of new investment and wealth. If it comes from beneath the sea, so be it. Gareth Hughes, the Green Party's apparent Expert on Everything needs to join the real world, not the socialist utopia he currently inhabits. And Shane Jones is absolutely right when he refers to "kneejerk emotionalism" from the Green Party and its supporters.