“Labour’s use of taxpayer money to compensate for its own damage to the regions is akin to wartime reparations,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour.
“The Government is spending, or is proposing to spend, millions of dollars of taxpayer money to compensate regions where the Government itself has created problems.
“It’s ironic that the Prime Minister is going to New Plymouth to talk economic development today. Her counterproductive ban on oil and gas exploration, without consultation, analysis or Cabinet process, has decimated prospects for the Taranaki economy.
“What would have been better is if the Government had gone through a proper policy process. Had it done so, it would have arrived at the same conclusion as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, namely that there is no environmental benefit to banning oil and gas exploration if Indonesian coal will be imported instead.
“No amount of taxpayer money or photo opportunities replace stable laws under which people can generate real wealth.
“That’s evidenced by the fact that, 14 months later, there’s been no progress on the clean energy centre promised to Taranaki to replace oil and gas exploration.
“The same can be said of Tiwai Point, where the Government considered giving $100 million of taxpayer money.
“Transmission costs are the problem. The viability of Tiwai Pont depends on whether the smelter can build its own transmission line to Manapouri instead of paying Transpower’s rates.
“Building its own line would save Tiwai Point tens of millions of dollars and make it viable again. But it might not need to build one, just get permission to do so. Even the threat of an independent transmission line would invoke the Electricity Code’s prudent discount policy, driving down transmission charges for Tiwai Point.
“The problem? There is no credible threat of an alternative transmission line, because under government regulations, such a line would never get resource consent.
“Instead of hosing out taxpayer money, the next government will need to create a regulatory environment that is safe for investment, development and growth.”