A Dunedin city councillor has accused Dunedin North
Labour MP David Clark of putting votes before jobs as the
debate over exploratory gas drilling heats up in the South.
The comments by Cr Andrew Whiley - a vocal supporter of gas
exploration off the Otago coast - were made in his new role
as spokesman for the gas supporters' group Pro Gas Otago.
However, Mr Clark hit back yesterday, saying Cr Whiley's
summary was ''simplistic'' and his group appeared to be
''parroting the National Party position''.
The exchange came after it was confirmed on Thursday the
group, Pro Oil and Gas Otago, had rebranded as Pro Gas Otago
and recruited Cr Whiley as its spokesperson.
Cr Whiley said yesterday he had been approached by members of
the group to take on the role, and had agreed after seeking
advice from Dunedin City Council staff.
He had added the new role to his councillor interests
register, which was to be made public shortly.
In his statement, released on Thursday afternoon, Cr Whiley
said a member of the group had met Dunedin-based National MP
Michael Woodhouse and Mr Clark to discuss Shell and
Anadarko's exploratory drilling plans.
Mr Woodhouse was ''very supportive'' of the industry's
arrival but the group was ''disappointed'' by Mr Clark, who
''felt that supporting this industry may cost him votes'', Cr
Cr Whiley yesterday, confirmed he had not been at the
meeting, but stood by the comments anyway and urged Mr Clark to
do more to support exploratory drilling.
''My view is: the same people who were campaigning for
Hillside ... should be in support of the jobs that could be
created by exploration off the coast.
Mr Clark said it was ''not true'' he was putting votes before
''I did say that North Dunedin people are concerned about
environmental outcomes and therefore wouldn't be willing to
support unregulated mining without appropriate checks and
''I think the Dunedin North electorate is sophisticated
enough to understand that appropriate development of mineral
resources can support decent incomes, but are not willing to
support mineral development at any cost.''
His view was consistent with that of Labour leader David
Cunliffe, who earlier this week said the party supported deep
sea oil and gas exploration ''in principle'', but would
toughen environmental protection laws.