Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee’s constant blundering is leaving the New Zealand biofuels industry hamstrung, Labour’s Associate Energy Spokesperson Chris Hipkins said today.
“As soon as it took office National repealed legislation that would have encouraged the development of a sustainable biofuels industry in New Zealand. Since then Gerry Brownlee has totally failed to develop a workable alternative,” Chris Hipkins said.
“Last year Gerry Brownlee announced a Biodiesel Grants Scheme that he boldly predicted would create 240 jobs, yet only 5 companies have signed up for it, no new companies have signed on since July last year, and less than $200,000 of the $36 million that was set aside for the scheme has been taken up.
“Now Gerry Brownlee has extended his failed subsidy scheme to diesel with a blend of more than 20 percent biofuel, only to then have both the Road Transport Forum and the Motor Trade Association both point out that drivers could risk voiding their vehicles warranties if they use such a high concentration of biofuel.
“Another critic of the scheme, Lindsay Fergusson of major domestic biodiesel producer Ecodiesel, has argued that the new scheme will only benefit ‘fringe producers’ and those who are ‘not the future of the biodiesel industry in New Zealand’.
“Gerry Brownlee clearly isn’t doing his homework. The National government’s biofuels policy is in total disarray. This latest attempt by Mr Brownlee to save face clearly hasn’t been properly thought out. It’s another clear example of Mr Brownlee just trying to bluster his way through without getting his facts right.
“Once again National has failed to develop a credible approach to developing the biofuels industry in New Zealand. It’s time they went back to the drawing board and tried to think up something that will actually work.
“National now has a major credibility gap when it comes to energy policy. The revised New Zealand Energy Strategy Mr Brownlee has been promising for 18 months has failed to eventuate, his Electricity Industry Bill has been panned by critics and his plan to mine in National Parks lies in tatters,” Chris Hipkins said.