The petition calls on the government to declare the refinery a nationally strategic asset, to compulsorily purchase all the shares from the private owners, and turn it back into a state owned enterprise which continues to refine the fuels needed to keep the New Zealand economy operating.
The petition has more than 5,000 signatures.
“In the event of a natural disaster or a geopolitical conflict, the shipping routes to New Zealand could be cut off and the supply of fuel to major sectors of the New Zealand economy severely compromised,” says Leitch.
Leitch says Simon Terry of the Sustainability Council, Adelaide energy analyst Dr Graeme Bethune, and head of the Northern Australia Strategic Policy Centre Dr John Coyne have all made it very clear that relying on assumptions that global supply chains could readily deliver fuel to New Zealand is strategically naïve.
For fuel security to keep all major essential transport, freight, air and defence operations going New Zealand needs to be able to refine its own oil as reliance on overseas refined product getting into the country is fraught with danger, says Leitch.
New Zealand needs to ensure that essential services could still operate.
This list is not exhaustive but includes:
- Air transport into and out of and around New Zealand including all our air freight exports
- Helicopter rescue services
- Coastal shipping, inter-island ferries and shipping to the Pacific Islands
- New Zealand’s Army, Navy and Air Force including rescue and disaster relief operations
- Commercial fishing boats and short distance ferries
- The country’s trucking fleet that moves goods around New Zealand
- Heavy construction machinery and infrastructure and road building equipment
- Agricultural machinery including forestry, farming and horticultural equipment
- Goods and passenger rail operations
“Government ownership of the refinery would also be the opportunity to break the stranglehold the oil companies have on fuel retailing,” says Leitch.
“The refinery could become a wholesaler of fuel selling at a common price, allowing smaller retail operators to enter the market and provide real competition in fuel retailing.
“Approximately 600 jobs will be lost if the refining operation shuts down with many of those people being forced to look for jobs overseas with the consequent loss of yet more expertise and knowledge to New Zealand.”
Leitch says the government’s purchase of the refinery could be achieved at no cost to taxpayers, using the capacity of the Reserve Bank which has already created around $60 billion in the last 18 months.
“A Labour government has used that capacity in the past and this one needs to stop sitting on the sidelines wringing its hands and act in the interests of New Zealanders,” says Leitch.