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Refinery closure strategic mistake

30 June 2020

by Chris Leitch, Leader, Candidate for Whangarei

Shutting down New Zealand's capability to refine oil by turning Refining New Zealand into an importer of pre-refined fuel would be a grave strategic mistake.

Such a move would put New Zealand at the mercy of international oil powers and remove completely our ability to refine oil extracted from New Zealand fields should it become necessary to rely on those sources.

Should the oil company owners of the refinery decide to close it, the government should step in and compulsorily purchase it and turn it into a State Owned Enterprise.

It could do that very easily and without cost to taxpayers, by using some of the $60 billion dollars the Reserve Bank is creating currently to buy government bonds off rich investors, banks and speculators.

Returning the refinery to New Zealand ownership would reverse the privatisation of it undertaken by Labour in the 1980's, and should be the start of more strategic assets being bought back - a process that would be undertaken by a Social Credit government.

New Zealand owning the refinery would retain the expertise of the existing staff, keep that employment and income in Northland, and ensure a greater level of fuel security.

The refinery could even be run as a zero profit enterprise which would bring fuel costs down for New Zealand motorists, the transport industry, Air New Zealand, and roading contractors who use bitumen the refinery produces.

 While a move to alternative fuels like hydrogen and ethanol are important, with the government as shareholder the refinery could still continue to develop those options in an effort to move New Zealand towards a more self-sufficient energy position.

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