Putting an end-date on oil exploration a bitter pill for Shane Jones

The Government has announced an end to new permits for oil and gas exploration in New Zealand.

If you listen closely, you can hear the echoes of Green Party cheers tempered by the sound of nervous eyebrows furrowing over at New Zealand First's headquarters.

Shane Jones is, as Minster of Forestry, Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development, essentially New Zealand First's ambassador to the regions, with control of the $2 billion Regional Growth Fund and the billion tree programme.

As such, he treads a difficult line, saying he's concerned about "inevitable disruptiveness" in the regions one the one hand, while saying the Government is up for the challenge on the other.

Shane Jones stands behind James Shaw at a press conference on oil and gas.
Shane Jones stands behind James Shaw at a press conference on oil and gas. Photo credit: Newshub.

He's signalling he is only backing the slow move away from oil and gas exploration because that's what his leaders - Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern - have decided.

"I can't walk back from the status that I've had my whole life of being a pro-industry man, but I am one person, and I am loyal to the agreements that are struck by my leader and the Prime Minister, and it's futile to talk to alternative scenarios," he said.

Shane Jones at the press conference on ending oil and gas exploration.
Shane Jones at the press conference on ending oil and gas exploration. Photo credit: Newshub.

"The transition's either going to be driven upon us internationally or we try and get ahead of the curve, and that's what the Prime Minister has said, and the Matua Shane Jones is in agreement."

He even characterised the move as an inevitability borne of the Paris Agreement.

"When the New Zealand Government, including the last one, sign up to international obligations - you can't sign up without the obligation of managing the change that comes home to rest."

Meanwhile, the Greens celebrate one of its biggest wins since the party's inception.

"The Green Party and thousands of New Zealanders have been working to this day for many years," co-leader James Shaw said on Thursday morning.

"Ending deep sea oil and gas has long been a Green Party goal. This decision means beaches, whales, dolphins are safer today."

He later said the Greens "are just getting warmed up."

But the transition is not happening quite fast enough for the party's liking.

"We would have liked to have moved faster on this transition. The fact that there's a phase-out for on-shore of another three years - we would like to move a little faster on that," he said.

Newshub.

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