23 Jan 2014

Drilling stance no barrier for Greens

10:35 am on 23 January 2014

The Green Party says although Labour's stance on deep sea drilling is a mistake it does not mean the parties cannot work together.

Russel Norman.

Russel Norman. Photo: RNZ

The Labour leader David Cunliffe said on Wednesday a Labour government would not prohibit deep sea drilling, as proposed by the Greens, but would change the law to ensure that all permits meet world best standards.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Thursday that Labour's policy is problematic and the arguments against deep sea drilling are clear.

"It is not a rational response to the situation we find ourselves in to go to searching for more and more fossil fuels. Actually we need to embrace clean energy and I think that should be New Zealand's future, not more oil exploration which could also result in a big oil spill."

Despite the differing views, working with Labour was still an option. "It will be a challenging negotiation ... but MMP is all about parties finding common ground or working together and trying to find compromises."

Dr Norman would not say what any compromises might be and said it would depend very much on the outcome of the election.

The petroleum industry has welcomed the Labour Party's support for deep-sea drilling saying the sector needs stability.

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association says the oil and gas industry is New Zealand's fourth-largest exporter and employs more than 7000 people nationwide.

Chief executive David Robinson said petroleum plays a vital part in the economy. "In New Zealand we use an enormous amount of petroleum - it's the only option we have for our transport fuel. So in reality, we have a choice; we can either import it from somewhere else or we can develop it here and have the jobs and the revenue and the energy security that is a result of that."

Mr Robinson said legislation in the past two years had tightened up environmental rules for the industry.