Govt's decision process to ban oil exploration misleading - National

Govt's decision process to ban oil exploration misleading - National
Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

The Government's decision process to ban new oil and gas exploration permits is being called a disgrace, despite the Energy and Resources Minister insisting proper practice was followed.

Official documents show the announcement was made politically, without getting Cabinet approval.

The papers, released on Tuesday, include emails between Energy Minister Megan Woods' office and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), as well as briefing documents and a Cabinet minute.

The Cabinet minute acknowledges the Government's senior Ministers and the Prime Minister made preliminary decisions on the announcement, but no Cabinet papers have been filed on the subject.

National's Energy spokesperson Jonathan Young says it was extremely misleading.

"All the way through this there have been protestations from the Government that they had consulted and it's proven to be incorrect at every level. Even with their officials giving them advice which they went contrary to, Governments have always got that prerogative.

"Even though the aspirations of the Government might be something lots of people would support, it's the process of how they get there, and I think they're punishing people instead of working with the sector."

Act leader David Seymour is also slamming the Ministers behind the decision, calling them 'cowboy student politicians'.

But Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods says she received advice on the decision-making framework, and followed established practice.

"The normal practice is in terms of announcing block offers was for ministers to take an oral item to Cabinet. I did that around block offer 2018," Dr Woods told Newshub.

"I also signalled in that oral item I took that we wouldn't be doing further offshore block offers and a full paper will be going through the Cabinet process on that."

Ahead of discussion at Cabinet, the policy was discussed by coalition party leaders from Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens.

Dr Woods acknowledged the politics of the decision in a statement sent out alongside the documents.

"The decision was a political decision, looking out 30 years and taking steps towards 2050 being emission-neutral," Dr Woods said.