Councillors to boycott gas giant's briefing

A group of Otago regional and Dunedin city councillors will boycott a briefing by Austrian gas giant OMV, as the Dunedin City Council calls on the Government to take action.

Earlier this month, the company unveiled one of the most ambitious gas and oil drilling programmes proposed in New Zealand.

It could include three exploration and seven follow-up appraisal wells off Otago's coast in the Great South Basin, within a 100km-150km arc southeast of Dunedin.

The company is holding a briefing on Monday to explain its plans, and councillors from both councils, among others, have been invited.

Regional councillors Michael Deaker, Bryan Scott and Michael Laws said they would not be attending, citing their opposition, and neither will Dunedin city councillor Aaron Hawkins.

His colleague, Cr Damien Newell, was also undecided, but ''if I go, it will be in protest''.

''The science is in - there's nothing they can tell us.''

The councillors' intentions were clarified days after Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, encouraged by city councillor Christine Garey, wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to reiterate the DCC's opposition to offshore drilling.

The DCC had voted to call for a moratorium on deep-sea oil and gas activities in New Zealand waters in 2015, and current councillors voted 9-4, with one abstention, to reiterate that stance in 2016.

Mr Cull's letter to Ms Ardern, on April 15 this year, reiterated the council was ''strongly opposed'' to offshore drilling, following news of OMV's latest plans.

Mr Cull said yesterday he was yet to receive a response, but supported councillors whether they attended OMV's briefing or not.

Cr Deaker said he wanted to do ''nothing to support or encourage any fossil fuel industry, in Otago or anywhere''.

''I want a wonderful future for our grandchildren and they won't have that unless climate change is stopped.''

Cr Scott felt similarly and preferred to ''establish plans for the future, not the past''.

Cr Laws would also not attend.

''But then I never make 450km round trips to suit the interests of public relations promoters when they could just email their propaganda like most paid lobbyists do.''

Cr Ella Lawton said she would be going, to be informed, but was ''adamantly against'' the plans.

Cr Sam Neill would attend as well, but because fossil fuels would ''be necessary for society for a long time yet''.

Both Cr Andrew Noone and chairman Stephen Woodhead have said they cannot attend, but would have, to better understand OMV's plans.

Other regional councillors could not be contacted.

Among Dunedin city councillors, Cr Hawkins said he saw ''little value'' in the briefing, as there was ''nothing they could say to convince me that the environmental and economic aspirations of our community are well served by more deep-sea drilling''.

Cr Newell was ''absolutely philosophically opposed to the offshore drilling'', which was just ''wilful and wanton damage for our environment and our planet''.

''It's just madness.''

Crs Garey and Jim O'Malley would attend, despite their opposition to drilling, to hear from the company, ask questions and express their concerns and those of the community.

''If I don't like the answer, I'm going to leave immediately,'' Cr O'Malley said.

Mr Cull would not be going, as he would be in China representing Local Government New Zealand, but Crs Doug Hall, Mike Lord, Andrew Whiley and Lee Vandervis - who all supported OMV's plans - would be at the briefing.

Cr Hall said councillors - and the country - needed to consider where it would get its energy from, if not oil and gas.

Cr Lord said he would go ''simply because I was invited'', but was ''very supportive of things that are going to benefit our economy''.

Cr Whiley said he would be ''disappointed'' if councillors boycotted the briefing.

Other city councillors could not be contacted.

Comments

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So 69% of the attached poll support gas exploration, I suggest that this histerical left green leaning council should all step aside at the next election.

Doug Hall, Mike Lord, Lee Vandervis, Andrew Whiley looks like you all are prepared to earn your place on our next council.

55% of the attached poll say no. I suggest you rabid Greedisgoodites go away, your day is done, you are being relegated to the dirty history of humanity.
Having meetings with mining companies is a waste of time. They lie all the time. They break agreements, dodge paying tax while squirreling the profits offshore, leave a huge expensive mess for tax payers to clean up if they can, go bankrupt and disappear.
If, in 2019, you need more information about the climate, and oil and gases roll in destroying it, then you are a denier. Your ignorance, climate change denial is a crime against humanity, means there is no point discussing this with you because you are too dumb to ever understand how dumb you are. No more Gas, Coal or oil should be extracted, anywhere.

As private citizens, they are of course entitled to boycott whatever they like. But doing so in their capacity as ratepayer-funded employees is simply a refusal to do their job. For that, they should be sacked.

If the councillors don't go to the meeting, how will they be able to give any advice on accepting or declining the company's requests? Isn't council supposed to be informed?

They never thought about that when making the D. Obviously they make up their minds without all the facts and as a result Dunedin gets a 1/2 pie effort.

I wonder if these technocrats would boycott the money that flows to Dunedin if oil is discovered? or the oil that flows from existing petrol stations? We all know the answer to that.....Put your money where your mouth is- or you have no credibility.

What a surprise, greens councilors who don't agree with something just stick their heads in the sand.
The Science is in, there is nothing they can tell us. What a blindingly stupid comment to make. It really reminds me of some of the biggest blunders of history where people assume all that can ever be known is already known.
Yep, bring back the horse and cart, turn all the street lights off, convert most streets to playgrounds for children. Lets restore Dunedin to the wondrous place of someones dreams.

Here we go again Voted morons that are meant to be there to help find companies to find employment and more work for those who have jobs . I just hope Dunedin and Otago rate payers remember that they just don't care not one bit but hay it's ok they get paid big money for them not to go . Why not send me I will go to the meeting for 10 grand . And I will report back to the ones who care about jobs and where money will go what else will they do on monday sit on there fat arses and get well paid to decide if they want to be Mayor poor babies do want to do work for the ratepayers and there familys its ok bring in 30 refugees but no jobs . You are all weak and useless the whole lot of you shame on you for not caring about your people who wasted a vote on you all for the unemployed who just want a job to pay for the rates you make us pay including your high wages shame on you all I know you will still sleep with a kink in you back shame shame shame on you all

Thank you ODT, for the list of those that have a closed mind regarding the energy requirements of not just Otago but also NZ.
Yes, gas is a fossil fuel but it has a considerably lower polluting affect and CO2 emissions than coal.
We need pragmatic leadership not finatic ideolgies.

We need to remember these un-representitive Councillors, their lack of ability and virtue signalling. Then we need to get rid of them at the next elections. Really they should stand down but their self interest will preclude that. It is sad to see Dunedin being held back by these head in the sand characters.

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