Aug 24, 2013

Shane Jones, oil drilling and sustainable development

Last month while on a visit to Taranaki with Andrew Little, Shane Jones made his latest attack on the Green Party. Taranaki is one of the biggest parts of my electorate Te Tai Hauāuru and is where I whakapapa to.

Jones, in his capacity as Labour’s Māori Affairs and Regional Development spokesperson thought it appropriate to distance Labour from the Greens so called “anti-development” agenda.

Jones seems to think that oil drilling and gas exploration are popular in Taranaki, even though they aren't on the East Coast. Well, Mr Jones is simply wrong. We as Māori, whether we are from Taranaki, Gisborne, Kaitaia or Dunedin, have a fundamental commitment to the protection of Papatuānuku.

What makes his argument even more disingenuous is that the Greens don't even oppose most shallow oil drilling in Taranaki. We oppose risky deep sea oil drilling that has no adequate environmental safeguards. We do support a moratorium on fracking and we know that the oil and gas industry is not the answer to our youth unemployment problem.

By painting the Greens as the opposition to economic development on the basis of their opposition to oil drilling, Jones is doing a disservice to prominent Māori values and perspectives. Māori and the Greens have a holistic world view. We can’t have a prosperous economy and high quality of life without a healthy environment at its foundation.

So these comments from Jones really won’t fly in Te Tai Hauāuru:

"Sustainability is as much about sustaining the livelihood of people as it is about guarding the ecological habitat of the Hochstetter's frog. As long as I am in politics as a Maori politician I am going to be unambiguous in standing up for jobs and people,"

The Greens do stand up for jobs and people, consistently. Indeed their track record on these issues is much stronger than Shane Jones’. Sustainable development and jobs aren't mutually exclusive concepts. They work hand in hand.

Interestingly, Mr Jones also said that ‘he occasionally found common cause with New Zealand First it was only with the aid of a telescope that he might do the same with the Greens’. So he would prefer to work with a party that is consistently anti Māori rights and self-determination than with the Greens who present a vision completely compatible with kaupapa Māori. This is astounding.

Labour really needs to rein in Shane Jones if a coalition between Labour and the Greens is seen to be palatable for voters. Labour won’t enter Government with New Zealand First alone.

Most of Jones’ own party seems to understand this, including the Māori caucus. Moana Mackey, who is Labour’s spokesperson for Energy, has been critical about the lack of regulation and safeguards in place for deep sea oil drilling and Meka Whaitiri MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti came out against it during the by-election campaign. In her maiden speech she said:

“Regional development is critical to the success of the nation’s sustainable economic growth, and more needs to be done at the regional level. In Ikaroa-Rāwhiti it is about people as much as it is about market drivers. 
Oil exploration and dams that wipe out complete valleys are not sustainable. There are alternatives, and greater investment in regional research and development will show that. Developing high-level strategic goals with community movers and shakers encourages ownership and, therefore, commitment.”

Well said. This is such a stark contrast with Jones’ vews. Maybe Labour should make Whaitiri there Regional Development and Māori Affairs spokesperson. Her attitude is more in step with the times we live in.

Labour's new leader is going to have to provide clarity on their deep sea oil drilling policy and their wider economic development framework.

The key to the future of the Māori economy is investment in research and development and Māori innovation. Global investment in clean energy will reach $800 billion by 2015. It would be transformative for the Māori economy if we could get even just a small piece of this action.

Post by Jack Tautokai McDonald

1 comment:

  1. Jack, I agree with you about Shane Jones. His behavior highlights the so-called 'broad church' within Labour and how those factions can be at times, advantageous to Labour and at other times damaging to relationships with other parties such as the Greens.

    It's too bad Labour are so fixated on their internal polling and the media-driven polls when they're made public. It's what's making their MPs bark at shadows. Time to rein the old dog in.

    Manaia C



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