The National Government is gambling with New Zealand's economy by proposing the sale of further petroleum exploration permits in deep water, the Green Party said today.
"The National Government shouldn't be selling the right to conduct deep sea oil drilling in New Zealand because if there is a leak there is no sure way to stop it," said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
"The consequence for New Zealand's environment, economy and reputation would be catastrophic."
Mr Hughes was responding to the National Government's proposed 2013 Block Offer of five on-shore blocks and 173,462.9 km2 of offshore blocks areas of deep water. The National Government today invited submissions from selected iwi and local councils, but the wider New Zealand public is being excluded from the formal consultation process.
"Given that all New Zealanders would feel the economic consequences of a deep water spill, the National Government is wrong to shut out the general public from its consultation, said Mr Hughes.
"If the National Government wants to risk our clean green image and our pristine shores by selling the right to conduct risky deep sea drilling in New Zealand, the public should have a say.
"The decision to put short term economic gains over long term sustainability is part of a pattern.
"The National Government has gutted the ETS, voted against protecting Maui's dolphins from extinction, weakened the RMA, and cancelled compressive environmental reporting. This Government doesn't care about the environment and doesn't want it getting in the way of its dig it, drill it, mine it agenda.
Mr Hughes said that promotion of the petroleum industry was not a smart way to run the economy.
"To make sure that New Zealanders have good jobs, the National Government should focus on retaining manufacturing jobs in New Zealand and growing the clean-tech sector.
"We can create a smart, green economy by moving away from mining and drilling, and towards renewable energy and clean-tech jobs," said Mr Hughes.