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Networks of influence: (dis)Advantage NZ

Written By: - Date published: 9:33 am, April 30th, 2013 - 20 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, climate change, Conservation, energy, john key, Metiria Turei, overseas investment, privatisation, slippery, spin, sustainability - Tags:

An Advantage New Zealand conference is happening at the moment at John Key’s favourite conference centre (SkyCity), with major players in the oil and gas industries sharing ideas, and strategies.  They are promoting and backing each others’ profit-making enterprises, no matter how destructive to our environment and lives. And as part of the way they work to give themselves public legitimacy, they wine, dine and play golf in expensive surroundings.

With the comprehensive website and cost of the conference and it’s affiliated activities, it’s clear these people back themselves as major players.  It certainly indicates a different kind of networks from the kind I know.  The conferences I have been to cost nowhere near as much, as this $2000 full delegate deal: a and that’s on top of airfares for overseas delegates and accommodation at SkyCity.  these are people with money to burn!  And they’ll use it to burn our environment too.

Networking is a favoured strategy of many – nothing unusual there.  However, for  John Key’s networks of influence are those through which he can connect with the wealthy and powerful in the international corporate worlds.  He so far has been seen to favour significant players in finance, entertainment, movie, and big commerce-favouring intellectual property.

The lineup of speakers for the conference includes many significant international players in the oil and gas industries. (See also the lineup of sponsors).  They are arguing for the economic gains, and financial safety of their extractive activities.   The conference website attempts to make video stars of participants with online videos.  Good luck with the mediocre star material of Simon Bridges.

As many know, a lot of the significance of such conferences is in the networking over the refreshment breaks, dinners, and associated activities.  The “Social Programme” began on Sunday with a round of golf at the Gulf Harbour Golf Club (cost $150, event sponsored by Greymouth Petroleum) – “golf attire” required, unlike the rest of the social activities that require “business attire”.

This is the sort of occasion that John Key was preparing himself for when he learned to play golf at 10 years old. The promo for the golf day says:

  • Enjoy the surrounds of Auckland harbour as you take the scenic boat ride  and mingle with fellow players over morning tea

  • Challenge your industry colleagues to an 18 hole round of golf

Interesting that they promote the enjoyment of Auckland’s outdoor, harbour environment, while planning to undermine it. Interesting also that the Gala Dinner requires “business attire/cocktail dress”.  Is this because the rest of the conference is largely attended by (white) males?  It certainly looks like that from the speaker line-up and videos.

John Key met Ian Fletcher on 12 March 2010 for breakfast at the Hyatt regency, after Fletcher attended an “Open Business Conference”  on 10 and 11 March at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Auckland.  This was the year before Key shoulder-tapped Fletcher for the job as boss of the GCSB.  I wonder if Key will be sounding out any delegates for future jobs, while at the Advantage NZ conference?

There’s already a load of propaganda for the destructive oil and gas industries being generated by or in association with the Advantage NZ conference, and appearing in the MSM.  Yesterday RNZ reported:

The Government is to offer up large sections of on and offshore New Zealand for oil and gas exploration. …

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges announced the offer at the Advantage Petroleum Conference in Auckland on Monday.

Mr Bridges said the Government’s plan represents a sensible development of the country’s resources, but it must be done is a safe way.

He said the exploration offer has the potential to provide a solid investment for future generations of New Zealanders.

Prime Minister John Key told the conference the Government supports plans to significantly expand oil and gas exploration and believes the industry could be a game-changer for New Zealand.

This is just one of many MSM reports in the last couple of days, promoting the planned exploration for oil and gas as being safe and potentially lucrative.

Yesterday, the Green Party warned, that the government is endangering Auckland’s west coast beaches:

The Green Party is condemning the Government for announcing the tender process today for new permits to conduct exploratory deep sea drilling in New Zealand waters off the west coast of the North Island and the East Coast of the South Island. Much of the area is in deep water.

“The Government is putting the economic interests of the oil companies over the environmental values of the people of New Zealand,” said Mrs Turei.

Today Labour’s Moana Mackey and Greenpeace’s Steve Abel expressed their opposition to the government’s dangerous and ill-conceived plans. It is clear that Key is leading his government strongly in a massive plan to exploit and endanger NZ’s resources and environment for the benefit of multinational corporations. And while he’s doing it, Key is continuing to work his dubious 1%er, networks of influence.

20 comments on “Networks of influence: (dis)Advantage NZ”

  1. Jenny Kirk 1

    Yes – and while they’re all networking and playing golf, in the background are beavers busily dismantling the Resource Management Act into something which will be a travesty of the original, and will have economic development at the forefront instead of protection of the environment.

    The NAct Govt has already put out a couple of discussion documents on RM reform and water regs and had a hurried, and little-advertised “consultation” meetings/hui at various town centres, telling people there was a need to get this legislation through urgently. Something to (not) wait for !

  2. BM 2

    Labour’s energy spokesperson Moana Mackey said the dangers of the exploratory work haven’t been addressed, and should be halted until it can be done safely.
    She said the Government should not be relying on royalties from oil and gas exploration to boost the economy and tougher regulation is needed.

    So no drilling for oil is labors position, just more taxes.Fantastic.

    If Moana Mackey is so worried maybe she should take a trip up to the North sea oil fields
    and see how the Brits and Scandinavians do it.
    There’s nothing new about off shore drilling.

    • karol 2.1

      Patrick Reynolds on The Auckland Transport Blog has a very good post on what NZ can learn from North Sea Oil. Part of the North Sea problem is that Thatcher squandered the economic benefits it provided. She did what “neoliberal” governments tend to do: stripped the resource for short term gain. Reynolds says:

      With North Sea production now increasingly in the rear view mirror, it looks very much like a wasted opportunity, most of it sold, after all, at around $10-15 a barrel. Nothing like an unrestrained free market to efficiently strip a resource as quickly as possible [again; compare and contrast to the more controlled exploitation by the other beneficiaries of this same resource]. So whenever I read praise of Thatcher’s or Blair and Brown’s financial management with no mention of the North Sea largess I find it hard to take seriously.

      Reynolds concludes form the North Sea evidence, and NZ’s context, that NZ would be better to wean itself off oil dependency.

      With urgency. To work towards a situation where the quantities we are either producing or importing are used in the most value-added and vital parts of the economy and not simply squandered on more inefficient and wasteful uses. …

      We are, unlike the UK, in a very much better position with regards to electricity generation, and there is still a great deal that can be done to improve from the current 80% renewable figure. 100% renewable generation is an important task; it certainly would be better to not be burning gas and coal to make electricity. [Although they are making some good moves in the UK now too].

      • BM 2.1.1

        The Auckland Transport Blog seems to be a NZ version of sites such as peak oil.com and the oil drum.

        The only way to wean NZ off oil is if we went nuclear, but that isn’t going to happen so oil is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

        • David 2.1.1.1

          Yeah mate, because nuclear powered cars and trucks is very realistic. As well as that, the North Sea isn’t deep water drilling, I am prepared to be corrected on that by all and sundry, I’m no expert, but provided they are the people commenting here who have two brain cells to rub together.

          P.S Should I add a sarcasm tag for my first sentence, or do you think BM can figure it out himself?

        • felix 2.1.1.2

          “The Auckland Transport Blog seems to be a NZ version of sites such as peak oil.com and the oil drum.”

          It’s actually – surprise – a blog about transport issues facing Auckland, and a very well informed one at that.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.3

          The only way to wean NZ off oil is if we went nuclear,

          The amount of fossil fuel energy needed to build the nuclear power plant, supply it with nuclear fuel rods, and finally decomission the plan at the end of its operating life, is simply HUGE.

      • Rich the other 2.1.2

        Karol ,
        What’s happened, wasn’t it the greens who were embracing advantage nz just a few weeks ago?

        You quote Reynolds ,he is misguided.
        Recently, thank’s to fracking , Britain discovered vast gas reserves under Blackpool (I think that’s the right city) enough to supply Britain for another 50 years.

        It’s a Good job they sold the north sea gas and took the benefit’s or they would have had a massive oversupply and not had any of the benefits.

        • karol 2.1.2.1

          The Green’s have welcomed Pure Advantage reports in the past, which says they aim for a green economy, as opposed to the Key government approach of exploiting the environment for corporate profit.

          As I understand it, “Advantage NZ” is the title of the conference, not a group.

          There are many reports on the dangers of Fracking, and while the UK government promotes it, others in the UK are opposed.

          • Wayne 2.1.2.1.1

            Karol, you are ignoring the report by the Environment Commissioner on fracking in NZ

            • karol 2.1.2.1.1.1

              Wayne, no I’m not. The environment Commissioners Report doesn’t give a green light to fracking, as argued by Gareth Hughes – who has spent a lot of time travelling around NZ fracking sites.

              The PCE’s report does not say that fracking in New Zealand is safe; the report concludes that fracking companies do not have a ‘social license’ to operate and that the regulation is fragmented and light-handed. The PCE has identified numerous ways in which fracking can cause environmental harm, and said, “the potential for important aquifers to be contaminated as a result of fracking is very real.” The report’s key recommendation is fracking can be effectively managed if best practice is enforced through regulation, but said at this stage she can’t be confident that operational best practices are actually being implemented and enforced in New Zealand.

              I believe these are good arguments for a halt until better rules are enacted especially given the large expansion of fracking planned for New Zealand.

    • framu 2.2

      “So no drilling for oil is labors position”

      umm . do you not even read the bits you quote?

      it says – stop and figure out the risks properly and dont put all your economic eggs in one basket

      WTF is going inside you head?

      • BM 2.2.1

        No it doesn’t
        It means lets put in place impossible conditions that oil companies have to adhere to, making exploration and drilling uneconomic.
        Labor lacks the cojones to come out and say “we wont allow off shore drilling” so they set up obstacles to halt it that way.
        Sneaky socialist weasels.

        • felix 2.2.1.1

          What you call obstacles are what other people call acceptable standards.

          Just a matter of priorities really.

          • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1.1

            Labour standards, unions, health and safety, environmental safeguards, minimum wage and other inconvenient “obstacles” to the capitalist pillage of our country.

    • Murray Olsen 2.3

      1. Where did Moana Mackey mention taxes?
      2. There’s plenty new about drilling at the depths they propose here. Petrobras presently has the best technology for deep work, but our seas are deeper, and Petrobras has a shocking environmental and safety record.
      3. Norway kept control of its oil and built a sovereign wealth fund.
      4. There are many rescue and rehabilitation vessels near the North Sea for when something goes wrong. There are none in Aotearoa, all we have is assurances from proven liars and ethical dwarves.
      5. I want to paint Shell Survey Vessel on the side of my car and run you down. Can you ask Simmy if he’ll change the law for me like he did for those nice whale killing ships?

  3. Jane 3

    Part of me thinks it’s worth going and finding out, it will probably turnout there is nothing there anyway and we can all just stop worrying about it.

    Not sure how I’d feel if it turned out to be truely enormous and worth tens of trillions, free house, car, boat and personal train stops for all!

    • muzza 3.1

      No chance of a free anything, Jane – any royalties earned, will be heading directly back to the same people who own the mining companies, to service the growing interest requirements of NZs out of control public debt!

      • framu 3.1.1

        ” any royalties earned” – after the product is sold at a loss to off shore parent company and the real profit earned outside NZ

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