Pro-drilling councillor criticises MP's stance

David Clark
David Clark
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 Whiley said.

Andrew Whiley
Andrew Whiley
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 jobs.

''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 balances.

''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.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

voting

He is there because we voted him there. I think it is well past time that NZers in general began to get serious about the people they vote in to all aspects of government and why. Because the effects on our lives are serious business. We are frittering away our most important power on people that 'seem nice', or are well known, without asking the hard questions "What does this person really stand for and will they make our lives better in their time in office".

oil at any cost

Is councillor Whiley just another oil at any cost supporter?

Why is he on our council?

We need people with just a little common sence there.

Hope

One can but hope.

Safeguards

The checks and balances on deep sea drilling in our waters must be incredibily rigorous to suit. The problem is that the whole project is an unknown and nobody can give those assurances to the general public in honesty. All of you 'job creators' are not really thinking about losses should the project's worst case scenario develops. It's OK to be gung ho now but down the track is another matter. Case in point: stadium. We had the same cry from the business community then. Heard it all before. But we are the ones that wear the cost of clean-ups and sell ons and or maintenance costs. Business just goes "Oh well. Next!"

Get in behind, Mr Clark.

As part of his argument Mr Clark says he ''...wouldn't be willing to support unregulated mining without appropriate checks and balances." If he truly supported job creation he would have said "do support regulated mining with appropriate checks and balances." Especially as the mining is indeed regulated...

Conflict

I think Whiley has a conflict of interests. Votes are what counts because it's the say of the people, not business. Whiley needs to be careful that he doesn't lose his.

Very disappointing petty political

It's very disappointing to have only vague statements about oil exploration from David Clark while he launches what looks like a party political attack.

Can he say whether he will support and work towards securing gas exploration and extraction related business and jobs for Dunedin? Or will he play politics until the election? It could be too late for Dunedin after that.

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