OPINION


If there’s one politician in the current parliament who stands out as not being afraid to speak out against the woke and ideological left it is Shane Jones. Here is a man who takes no prisoners. What he does take is a pragmatic approach to what he sees as necessary for New Zealand’s economic future, resilience, prosperity and, not to put too fine a point on it, its very survival. Ideology and singing from the songbook of the Greens Sisterhood, as he calls them, is not for him.

In his maiden speech to this parliament he rued the time too long spent on the other side of the House. This is borne out when one remembers him standing behind Ardern as she made the announcement to cease oil and gas exploration. There he was, hand over his eyes and a facial expression of ‘I don’t believe what I am hearing.’ A face of doom. He said recently that was the worst moment in his political career and he is determined to make amends now.

Here is a rare breed of politician. Allowing for the debate around the use of his regional development fund monies during his time with Labour, I think we can say overall Shane Jones is a man of principle. Jones is determined to ensure this country’s energy stocks and supply are well protected. As Minister of Resources he is aware, as are most of us, that this cannot be done without a strategic and realistic approach to transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Energy leaders are mostly in agreement that a crisis does exist and are supportive of the measures the Government is taking. Predictably though, not Megan Woods, whom Shane Jones recently described as “the worst energy minister in the history of Western civilisation”. She says the government is taking us backwards. In saying that she provides a good example of her inanity.

At no time has Shane Jones or the Government ever said they are backing away from the transitioning of fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources. What they are saying is that while doing so we must have the ability to have warm homes and keep the lights on. They also recognise the economic benefits of increasing the country’s prosperity and therefore people’s standard of living. This, of course, is what their opponents want as well but seemingly lack the intelligence to see the means to attain and maintain the goal.

The first big lesson the left has to learn is you cannot tax your way to prosperity. You can tax the so-called ‘rich pricks’ until you’ve bankrupted them but what happens after that? The second big lesson is not to introduce so much irony into your argument that you make yourselves look like fanatical hypocrites. A case in point about running out of money: what happens if you suddenly stop mining? Russel Norman would be hard pressed to find a phone for his speech making. That paradox is not lost on many.

It’s certainly not lost on Shane Jones. He points out another irony: leaving our pristine coal in the ground while importing historic amounts of dirty Indonesian coal. The legislation he is proposing would not permit mining on DOC estates except on stewardship land. This is land handed over to DOC when it was created in 1987. Jones argues stewardship land is not DOC land, probably on the basis that the department is simply managing it. Labour was in the process of having it reclassified, but that never came to fruition.

Those who oppose mining don’t want it to happen anywhere. The Government, on the other hand, is trying to strike a balance, doing what is necessary for the reasons outlined above. I think it would be fair to say we are all ‘environmentalists’ to varying degrees. We don’t want to see pristine land damaged by mining and neither does the Government. I am sure the final draft of the Fast Track Bill will reflect this. But that won’t satisfy those opposing it. They are the people seeing only one side of the coin.

Take coal as a one example. How would our lives be affected if we stopped mining it? Coal is an essential ingredient in the production of specialist products, from activated carbon used in filters for water and air purification to kidney dialysis machines. It is also used to manufacture carbon fibre: the extremely strong but lightweight material used in construction. Coal accounts for over 60 per cent of the energy required to produce aluminium.

Thousands of different products have coal or coal by-products as components: soap, aspirin, toothpaste, solvents, dyes, plastics and fibres such as rayon and nylon. Are these environmentalists ignorant of these facts or, if not, what are their alternatives? I have yet to hear of any. Perhaps Megan Woods is just not letting on. How about the uses for gold? It’s obvious why this has no appeal to the left: it’s used in things only the ‘rich pricks’ can afford, like jewellery, finance and investing and dentistry. However, Russel Norman might be surprised to learn it’s in his phone.

This is the problem with the left and intransigent environmentalists and why Shane Jones regards them with such disdain. They are not in the real world and they are unable to comprehend the consequences of their actions. Like the Maori activists, working with others to find solutions and common ground is anathema to them. It’s their way or the highway (they don’t want that either; they would much prefer a cycleway).

The Fast Track Bill is currently before a Select Committee, and Shane Jones says there will inevitably be some amendments. Ngai Tahu, to their credit, have not opposed the main thrust of the bill but want to find common ground in terms of protection so as to avoid costly litigation in the future. That is a commonsense approach. But in whatever shape the bill comes back to parliament, you can rest assured Shane’s desire for action on mining will be there in spades.

Dig, baby, dig.

A right-wing crusader. Reached an age that embodies the dictum only the good die young. Country music buff. Ardent Anglophile. Hates hypocrisy and by association left-wing politics.