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The strange case of the astroturfed Energy Voices organisation

Written By: - Date published: 3:34 pm, November 13th, 2018 - 18 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, internet, Media, national, same old national, sustainability, twitter - Tags:

Recently a new organisation, New Zealand Energy Voices appeared.  It was apparently spontaneously formed by disaffected kiwis railing up against the tyranny of eventually, eventually stopping off shore drilling for oil and gas, just after all the existing oil and gas wells have expired.

The entity’s goals were superficially laudible sounding:

Energy Voices will give affected workers and families a chance to have their say. So far, they haven’t been heard. They face an uncertain future and they deserve a voice.

The process has been rushed and the evidence ignored. This campaign will provide balance.

Energy Voices will explain the serious damage this policy could have on New Zealand’s economy.

Thousands of jobs could be lost. The New Zealand government will miss out on many billions of dollars in royalties and taxes.  That money could help us build a better future for Kiwi families.

At the same time, ending offshore exploration will do nothing to reduce global emissions or help the environment. We won’t use any less oil or natural gas; it just means we will have to import it more expensively from overseas.

And it was up front about the entity behind the website:

PEPANZ  – the Petroleum Exploration & Production Association of New Zealand – has started the Energy Voices campaign to give those directly impacted the chance to be heard, to raise awareness of the negative impacts, and to build public support for restoring offshore exploration for oil and natural gas.

But, and imagine my shock when I discovered this, there are National Party links to the people behind the entity.

Ben Guerin is the contact person for the URL and, at least recently, a senior social media advisor for the National Party.

He has come to the attention of authors on the Standard in the past with lprent describing him as a pathetic young nat dickhead.

He has also been fingered for doctoring the Jacinda Ardern video that was then offered as proof that she had said there would be no strikes under Labour when she said no such thing.

Of course he is free to ply his trade.  And if they wanted to hide his identity it would have been so easy to do this.

But the media should be careful about any organisations seeking media time formed to represent grassroots interests.  And Guerin’s claims should always be taken with a grain of salt.

18 comments on “The strange case of the astroturfed Energy Voices organisation ”

  1. Bruce 1

    Hope you dont mind but i shared your post with them. Its on my facebook feed everyday. They must have good funding and a real fear for their future and plenty of commenters to rebut any contrary comments.

    • tc 1.1

      Goes without saying they’re well funded.

      It’s National cuddling up to the oil industry in a DP playbook move….leopards and spots.

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    Interesting space to watch, for sure. Easy to dismiss as fossil fuel addicts, even if not obviously partisan, but I’m giving them credit on a single point. If this government does not have a robust plan for eliminating oil imports, the lobby group will target that weakness. To early to know, while we await the design and writing of the legislation resulting from the long consulting process led by the climate change minister.

    So I suspect the lobby group is targeting the likelihood that collusion between public servants involved, Labour & NZF will prevail over the Greens. Pragmatic oil import dependency instead of a resilient design for sustainable independence. It’s a gamble for them. If the legislation turns out to be an authentic path to sustainability, they’ll die on their vine…

    • tc 2.1

      IMO they’ll do no such thing even if it’s ‘an authentic path to sustainability…’ which would be great if it was.

      It’s not there to be reasonable it’s there to push oil and gas industry interests i.e. consumption.

      ‘the lobby group will target that weakness…’ or make some up as DP players do, manufacture consent etc

    • Anne 2.2

      Uggh Dennis Frank? Do you honestly believe the likes of this Ben Guerin – so aptly described by lprent as a “pathetic young Nat dickhead” would be able to work out a sophisticated strategy such as you are proposing. Don’t think so.

      Of course he might just be the front man/boy in which case you may be right. 🙂

      • Dennis Frank 2.2.1

        No Anne, I was assuming he was obviously inconsequential, so there must be other players in this game acting on behalf of the industry, perhaps also the Nats. This kind of operation never even gets off the ground if there’s only a young dickhead driving it…

    • McFlock 2.3

      Trouble is, I suspect that the goal is more to sow alarm and despondency than to exploit or improve genuine weakness and hold the government accountable.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.3.1


        This association is just a vehicle to increase the power of the petroleum industry through fear and lies.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.4

      If this government does not have a robust plan for eliminating oil imports, the lobby group will target that weakness.

      Renewable electricity with the generators made from our own resources. No need for imports at all.

      Thing is, it’s also the only option we have unless we want to go back to the stone age.

  3. A 3

    Googled “energy voice”.

    Looks like its a well utilized industry term to the degree that it appears this new lobby group is basically the industry.

  4. Bruce 4

    There are just so many opportunities for those willing to look at a sustainable future but these guys are tied to out dated technology and see progression to a sustainable future as a threat to their future profits.
    Many of the monied also think their dollars will protect their life style, as in the Alaska / NZ post.
    Then the are the huge numbers of downright denialists as seen by mainstream acceptance of a waterfront underwater polo stadium.
    Hemp oil and bio fuel , fuel from waste all offer opportunities for employment and a sustainable future but there does not seem much progression being made.
    Here is another solution I’ve shared elsewhere .

    • gsays 4.1

      That looks cool Bruce.
      The amateur in me sees its Achilles heel as moving parts, the pulleys, the slide, the cables….
      Also the friction occurring in those moving parts means inefficiencies.

    • Dennis Frank 4.2

      Yeah Bruce, simple design but effective, depending on the conversion ratio. No efficiency rating was cited, as far as I could see. Do you know the percentage?

      • xanthe 4.2.1

        The cited 90% round trip efficiency

        • Dennis Frank

          Well, if others validate that claim via replication, the thing is a winner. Our govt ought to build one as part of a feasibility study. Any engineers onsite here to offer an opinion?

          • xanthe

            hmm interestingly electric motors of the standard 4 pole induction type in larger powers are quoted as 95.4% efficient which gives an electrical efficiency of 95.4 * 95.4 or round trip 91% ( i am confident that modern permanent magnet motors are better than this figure) if you think about it a bit of wire rope winding onto a drum is about as efficient as you can get!

            then there is of course the power conversion, inverters, and transmission lines which probably do take us below 90% . however the concept is incredibly simple and does not involve any exotic technological advances that we haven’t made yet .

  5. Jum 5

    ‘He has also been fingered for doctoring the Jacinda Ardern video that was then offered as proof that she had said there would be no strikes under Labour when she said no such thing.’

    Isn’t that something NZ security forces should be looking into as being an orchestrated attack on the person of the Prime Minister i.e. treason?

    If not, why not?

    Why hasn’t the media been all over this?

    • Dennis Frank 5.1

      Judicious editing to create a particular impression isn’t a crime. You’re right about it being an orchestrated attack though. The reason the media haven’t been all over it is that it is part of normal media process.

      My career in television required me to do this. Whether it involves making ads for tv or news & current affairs, the editor crafts the product to suit the client. You’ll be wondering where the public interest comes in. Through the margins. The public are stakeholders, but weakly so. No leverage. Did any of my clients cross the ethical line? Sometimes, usually not blatantly so.

      Partisanship is more often tacit than overt in the media, in my experience. I don’t recall a single instance that provoked my conscience into enduring anger – the line-crossing was rarely seriously concerning. More what they nowadays call spin. Any proposal that looked like fakery, misrepresentation, or a blatant attempt to make propaganda as news, and I would have laid a complaint.

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