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NZ does not need more mining - TV3's The Vote

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Should New Zealand protect its 100% Pure brand and ride the wave of a global clean-tech revolution? Or do we back a growing energy industry that will create jobs, raise wages and keep some of our best and brightest from seeking a better life across the Tasman?

Tonight Kiwis voted NO to the moot ‘New Zealand needs more mining’ during national debate programme, The Vote, which screened on TV3.

Guyon Espiner and the Negative team were declared the winners of the debate at the end of the hour-long show with the votes tallied at 46% YES, 54% NO.

Energy and Resources Minister, Simon Bridges said in response to the vote that the Government would push for more mining in a third term, but conceded in the unlikely event of a major oil spill it would take clean-up ships two weeks to reach New Zealand and begin addressing the problem.

Viewer votes:

Facebook - 32% YES, 68% NO

Twitter - 40% YES, 60% NO

Website - 44% YES, 56% NO

Text - 49% YES, 51% NO

TOTAL - 46% YES, 54% NO

The theatre audience voted before and after the debate. The results are:

Theatre audience vote - prior to debate - 39% YES, 41% NO, 20% UNDECIDED

Theatre audience vote - end of debate - 40% YES, 55% NO, 5% UNDECIDED

Dubbed ‘competitive current affairs’, The Vote sees co-hosts Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner each month lead two teams to debate a hot topic, with Linda Clark keeping order as referee.

In tonight’s debate, a coin toss decided Duncan Garner would lead the ‘For’ team, with Bathurst Resources CEO Hamish Bohannan, Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn, and David Robinson, CEO of PEPANZ (the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand). Joining Guyon Espiner on the ‘Against’ team were Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman, Greenpeace New Zealand’s Managing Director Bunny McDiarmid and Gisborne District councillor Manu Caddie.

The arguments FOR:

- There’s somewhere about 6700 jobs in the mining sector in New Zealand today, and hopefully that’ll increase shortly. The average wage in the mining sector is about $105,000 per annum. That compares to the average wage of New Zealand of about 52, so it’s over double what the rest of New Zealand is earning … At the moment it’s a four billion dollar industry. - Hamish Bohannan

- In the New Zealand area [the amount mined is] 0.1 of 1%; that is all. Of the whole land mass of New Zealand. On the West Coast a strip of mining, if you put it together in one paddock it would be seven kilometres by two kilometres only. If you drove all the way from Karamea to Haast which is the same distance from Wellington to Auckland, you won’t even see mining that’s how small it is. Our area is just full of rainforests. - Tony Kokshoorn

- I think an oil spill would be a very, very serious matter for New Zealand, and I can understand New Zealanders being very concerned about that. When you’ve seen the pictures of the Gulf of Mexico and that’s all you know about the petroleum sector, you’d be very frightened about something like that happening here. - David Robinson

- Yes there’s an element of greed and complacency that actually attributed to [the Pike River] disaster … the industry’s a dangerous industry but it’s always been a dangerous industry … If you mine safely under health and safety rules today, everything’s ok. But complacency and the checks and balances weren’t in the mine, and the inevitable happened. - Tony Kokshoorn

- The risks are incredibly low. We haven’t had a fatality in this industry for more than 15 years, there’s not many other industries in New Zealand that can claim that. We’ve never had a major incident here in New Zealand. Even if we look at the Gulf of Mexico there have been two significant blowouts there. One in 1979 and the one we all know about in 2010. - David Robinson

- They wanted the Resource Management Act; they campaigned right through the ‘80s. In 1991, the Resource Management Act comes into play. By the time you’ve jumped through all the hoops; and the Resource Management Act with the judges, the commissioners, and then you have to go through another two years of Forest and Bird and the Greens throwing spanners in the works. - Tony Kokshoorn

- We’re not ruining wildlife, we are creating jobs. We are creating well-paid jobs in an industry that is very viable. - Hamish Bohannan

The arguments AGAINST:

- The International Energy Agency has said that if we want to avoid out of control climate change, more than two degrees, then most of the existing oil and coal reserves have to stay in the ground. So it’s grossly irresponsible to go and find more and start digging them up and releasing that carbon because that means we’re giving our kids an out of control climate. - Russel Norman

- The New Zealand government subsidises this business by about 50 million dollars a year. - Russel Norman

- If anyone needs jobs it’s probably the East Coast. These communities are saying the risk is too great. They rely on the water and the land to live off; you know it’s their sustenance, and so they’re saying risk is too great to put all that at stake. - Manu Caddie

- Deep sea drilling is the most risky of the oil industry. It’s going to depths that we have not had a production well in New Zealand ever at … We’re not prepared at all. I mean most of us remember the Rena which is a tiny spill in relation to a major blowout; we would have to get help from overseas that would take weeks to get here. In the time it would take to get here our way of lives, our fisheries, our coastlines; everything could be destroyed. - Bunny McDiarmid

- Well I think you’ve just got to look at the existing industries and the existing numbers, I mean mining employs directly about 6700, 6800 people. Food production employs directly about 69,000 people, Tourism employs about 110,000 people. Now tourism and food production both are entirely dependent on our clean, green brand. If we destroy the clean, green brand we undermine the job security for about 200,000 people directly and many, many more indirectly. If you want to talk about exports, more than 50% of our exports are either food or tourism; both industries absolutely dependent on the clean, green brand that the oil industry is putting at risk. So in terms of just basic numbers, why would you put all of that at risk for a very small number of jobs? - Russel Norman

- This is not about environment vs. economy. This is about choosing energy that allows us to actually look after our economy, create jobs and have energy. So if we’ve actually got a choice, which New Zealand is really lucky to have a choice, why do we have to choose something really risky? And it may only be two blowouts in, I don’t know, 100 years, but one of those blowouts happens off our coast, we are pretty much screwed if it happens the same way. - Bunny McDiarmid

The full transcript is available at:

The Vote is produced by TV3’s News and Current Affairs division with funding from NZ On Air, and screens once every four weeks in the same timeslot as 3rd Degree.

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