Oil workers can't get mortgages thanks to ban - National

  • 26/05/2018

National is reassuring the oil and gas industry it will reverse the Government's move to ban future exploration permits.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has met with Taranaki oil and gas workers to discuss the industry's limited lifespan. She told them their jobs are still safe - but not everyone was reassured.

Opposition energy spokesman Jonathan Young says they will receive a breath of life if National is re-elected.

"I've just come back from Australia [from] a petroleum conference, and they are shocked that such a radical decision [was] made without advice and without consultation."

The industry has around 30 years to make the transition under Labour's plan, but Mr Young says the effects are already being felt.

"I know of people who can't get mortgages because they have fixed-term contracts with exploration companies. The effects are immediate - they're not just 30 years away."

E tū, the union which represents many of the oil and gas workers, said it backs the Government's move to end fossil fuel drilling - on the condition jobs aren't affected.

"A start has to be made now so this is a gradual change and people and communities can make the adjustment," said senior industrial officer Paul Tolich.

"This cannot be left to chance. We saw what happened when the economy restructured during the 1980s where there was no plan for new jobs for the people affected by those changes. That cannot happen this time."

Ms Ardern's visit to Taranaki this week was her first trip to the region since announcing a ban on future exploration a month ago.

She said there are 57 existing permits for offshore and onshore exploration and that could provide work for another 40 years, and over that time the industry is expected to transition to cleaner fuels.

On this, Labour and National appear to be on the same page - at least in theory.

"We will also support the industry in developing future fuels that are low or zero emissions - like ethanol, like liquid natural gas, like hydrogen," said Mr Young.