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Ms Heka Goes To Wellington. (Part #Rua)

17 April 2012 2 comments

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Continued from Ms Heka Goes To Wellington

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Shortly after concluding our meeting with Ms Martin, our party met with Metiria Turei’s PA, and we were escorted to the Green’s 14th floor office in Bowen House.

At the Reception, we were introduced to waiting ‘Dominion Post‘ journalist, Kate Chapman, and photographer Kent Blechynden. A TV crew was present as well and after making introductions with the ‘Dompost‘ people, this blogger asked the TV crew,

Are you here for Jazmine Heka’s meeting with Metiria Turei?”

The cameraman replied,

No, we were here for something else.”

This blogger replied,

Oh? Never mind. Come along for the interview anyway. You’re more than welcome and more the merrier.”

Our party, with journalists in-tow, filed into another Conference Room – this one having a magnificent view of the Beehive; Bowen State Building, and the Thorndon hills in the background.

Ms Turei joined us almost immediatly, and more introductions were made,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Jamine Heka meeting Greens co-leader, Metiria Turei.

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Ms Turei started by saying that,

We have been campaigning  strongly for a number of years around  issues to do with child poverty and income inequity. The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger and as a result life is harder for everybody, not just those at the real  bottom.

At the election we campaigned very strongely on addressing child poverty and we had four main proposals that we were putting to the public about that.

To fix rental housing.

To increase the income of beneficiaries,  to what’s now called the  in-work tax credits, but would actually be an extension of benefits.

Extending the Training Incentive Allowance to more beneficiaries.”

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Getting down to it, and dsiscussing the important issues of the day.

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Ms Heka said that those were good policies and asked if the Greens had a time-frame to achieve their policies if they were part of a government.

Ms Turei replied that they would be working toward a goal of getting 100,00o lifted out of poverty in one term. She said that part of New Zealand’s problem was the “working poor”, where people working full time were still in poverty because their wages were to low.

Ms Turei said she recently talked with young children in a poor area. She said that one child, with the gaming nick-name “Master Nighthawk”said to her, “we don’t want to be rich, we just want everyone to be ok“.

Ms Turei noticed that none of the children she spoke with belittled anyone else, and seemed supportive of one another. She noiced  a strong spirit of mutual support between them.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

The Greens party-policy position was close Ms Heka’s concerns and practically ‘mirrored’ aspects to her petitions.

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Ms Turei said it would take a long time to eliminate poverty . She said many of the causes for poverty were deeply ingrained this country such as having 70,000 too few homes for low-income earners and beneficiaries. Building more homes would create more jobs, creating  economic growth downstream,  with other businesses benefitting from increased housing construction.

Ms Turei commended Ms Heka, saying that “this is the sort of pressure the government needs to act“. She added that this was “the sort of thing the public needs to see happening“.

Ms Turei then asked what sort of support or assistance the Greens could offer Ms Heka and her campaign. Ms Heka asked if her petition could be circulated amongst Gree Party members.  Ms Turei said she’d be happy to assist, and that copies would indeed be included in any future mail-out.

Ms Heka then asked if Ms Turei would sign her petition, to which the Green co-leader readily consented,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Ms Turei was only too happy to sign Ms Heka’s petition and said that the Green Party would be willing to circulate copies to everyone on their mailing list.

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Ms Turia commended Ms Heka for her stand on this important issue, and asked her how she felt about standing out in the public eye.

Ms Heka replied that she felt that having it come from someone as young as her – “a child’s perspective” – sent a “powerful” message to the government. She said it was not something she wanted to do but felt she had no choice, especially after watching Bryan Bruce’s documentary last November.

Ms Heka said that it should be the government leading the way instead of kids like her.

The half hour alloocated to our party grew to nearly a full hour, and both women filled the time discussing various matters relating to the issue of poverty in New Zealand. This blogger noticed that they were both very much on the “same wavelength”.

Ms Turei eventually excused herself, as she had another appointment to keep.

The ‘Dominion Post‘ photographer, Kent Blechynden, asked Ms Heka to pose for several photographs, which she (shyly) consented.  Again, this blogger sensed that Ms Heka – like most teenagers – reluctantly agreed to being photographed. But her sense of committment to her cause, though, over-rode her natural shyness,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

‘Dominion Post’ photographer, Kent Blechynden, lining up Ms Heka for the photo-shoot.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Photographer, Kent Blechynden, snapping away for the upcoming ‘Dominion Post’ story.

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Below, the story and photograph as it appeared in the ‘Dominion Post’ on the following morning,

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* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

Contact Details for Children Against Poverty

Email: childrenagainstpoverty@hotmail.co.nz

Facebook: Children-Against-Poverty

Snailmail: PO Box 585, Whangarei 0140

Additional Media

Divided Auckland: Overcrowding a hotbed for infections

Jazmine Heka grabs politicians’ attention

Teen becomes leading voice on child poverty

Girl with a mission

Teenager brings child poverty crusade to Parliament

Other Blogger’s posts

Jazmine Heka – Hero of the Week

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Ms Heka Goes To Wellington.

17 April 2012 4 comments

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When Bryan Bruce’s excellent documentary, “Inside Child Poverty“,  screened last year, New Zealand’s poor  and powerless burst into the living rooms of middle-New Zealand like never before. It caused a furore, screening only days before the election and becoming an overnight ‘hot’ political issue.

As Bryan Bruce said,

“… It’s not because their parents don’t care. They do.

They’re just poor. Typically they can’t afford Bryan Bruce Inside Child Povertyheating so they huddle together in one room and in large families that’s how diseases such as tuberculosis, meningitis and rheumatic fever are spread,” he explains.

Bruce then travels to Sweden to find out why the Swedes are second for child health and New Zealand is third from the bottom.

“What I discovered is that they work smarter,” says Bruce. “They know that for every dollar they spend on prevention they save about $4 on cure. They have a completely free health care system for children up to the age of 18”. ” – Source

Had it not been for a certain infamous Epsom tea-party, which distracted the public’s attention, it might possibly  have swung the election in Labour’s favour.

Bryan Bruce’s stark, no-holds-barred truth  certainly encouraged one person to take up the cause; Jazmine Heka, 16, student,

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Full Story

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Upon learning of her campaign this blogger wrote, commending Jazmine Heka for  having the courage to make such  a public stand.

See: Kiwi Hero: Jazmine Heka

There is something energising and uplifting about youthful idealism, that is positively ‘infectious’ to others. Youthful idealism seems to  compel older, supposedly ‘wiser’, folk to reassess pressing issues and shamefully we ask ourselves; why are things not any better? Why is it left to children and young folk to prick our consciences?

Why indeed.

Soon after, this blogger wrote  another related blogpiece on Karen, who was promoting not one – but three petitions sponsored by Ms Heka.

See:  Petition opposing child poverty gains strength

The petitions called for;

  1. To provide free healthy school lunches to all children attending schools
  2. To provide free healthcare for all children including prescription costs
  3. To introduce warrant of fitness’s for all rental homes

(The petitions can be downloaded here.)

That blogstory was shared throughout this blogger’s Facebook contacts, including Ms Heka. In March, Ms Heka contacted this blogger explaining that she was visiting Wellington and could we assist her in meeting members of Parliament, to promote her campaign and petitions against child poverty .

It was a privilege to be asked. Phone calls were made. Messages left. Appointments confirmed.

Due to a mix-up in airline arrangements, Ms Heka bussed from Whangarei to Auckland, and after five hours, bussed from Auckland to Wellington over Thursday night. By Friday morning, when we arrived to pick her up at 9am, she and her friend had had only two hours sleep.

Despite her fatigue, she was cheerful and keen. It would be a long day ahead of us.

Our first appointment was with Tracey Martin, New Zealand First’s spokesperson on Youth and Women’s Affairs (amongst other portfolios).

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

First priority: coffee! We all needed to be wide awake and alert.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Outside the main doors to Bowen House parliamentary annex. Petitions in hand!

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Outside Bowen House, Jazmine was recognised by a woman collecting for Rape Crisis. Jazmine took the opportunity to explain the purpose of her petitions to them.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Both women were only to happy to sign all three of Jazmine’s petition.

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Once through security, NZ First MP, Tracey Martin came to meet us at Reception and we adjourned to a nearby conference room,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Jazmine Heka, anti-Poverty campaigner, meets with Tracey Martin, Member of Parliament.

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The conversation between Ms Heka and Ms Martin took up the full hour we had been allotted, and was deep and wide-ranging.

Ms Heka asked if NZ First had any policies relating to children’s issues.

Ms Martin replied,

“We haven’t got a specific child poverty plan… but there are probably several policies like dental care , for example. *

Ms Martin referred to NZ First’s under 5’s free healthcare programme that had been introduced in 1997. She added that NZF had been a dominant supporter for the “HIPPY” programme, which is a reading and home educational programme directed at  several  low decile areas.

Ms Martin asked if the petition calling for “free healthcare for all children including prescription costs” also involved increased access to dental care for children. She said that lack of dental care was a real problem, especially in the north, where incomes were low and unemployment was high.

Ms Martin said that the mobile dental clinic these days only assessed the child’s teeth, and then advised parents what remedial work needed to be done. The mobile dentist did not carry out the actual remedial dental work themselves,

We shifted from dental clinics at schools to mobile dental clinics. They come under the DHB services.  What we’re now hearing is, and I’ve got to have  this confirmed , but what we’re now hearing is that the mobile clinic  will certainly go to the school and they’ll look at the children’s teeth but they won’t fix anybody So the parent then has to drive the child from where ever that is to the local largest township to go to the dentist to have the tooth fixed.

That’s wonderful when you’re in an urban area perhaps, but… you got to take time off from work to do that. So what that means for our rural areas where many of our lower deciles are, is that the parents now have the costs of transporting their children… 

The parents aren’t going to take those children. Because they can’t afford the gas, to get the children to the free dentist in Te Awamutu.  That is why we put in free mobile dental clinics.

So, you know, there are issues that come up, issue by issue by issue like that. That one hasn’t even broken yet. That one  I’m still waiting to make sure  that I know 100%  that’s it’s taking place.

Ms Martin recalled when, in her youth, every school had a dental nurse and clinic-room on school-grounds, and children’s teeth were properly looked after,

Our policy is that all children must have access to free dental healthcare for the period of their schooling.”

Increased funding for mobile dental vans was one aspect she felt was important in this area.

Ms Heka questioned further,

So what about, like, all their healthcare? Not just dental?

Ms Martin’s response,

Well, it’s in our manifesto. The policy is that we  had  childcare extended and free doctor’s visits for under 5s through to all primary school aged children, so up to the age of 10. And we wanted that to cover 7 day, 24 hour care. When you live close to a major  hospital that’s not a problem. But when you don’t, like in Warkworth for example…the closest emergency place on a Sunday was Red Beach  that’s 30 minutes ‘that’ way [indicates]  and that cost me  $110 to have him x-rayed there so that then  they would put him into hospital. Or the parent in Warkworth   would have to drive the hour and a half to Starship.”

Ms Heka suggested the option of having a doctor in school to check out kids.

Ms Martin nodded in agreement and said they had raised this issue in 2006 with children being assessed for ailments such as glue-ear, and for hearing tests carried out. She said “it was all very well for them being done there, but they weren’t being followed up, and some of that was around  the cost of having to follow up with doctor’s visits, etc, etc.”

Ms Martin said that this issue had been raised in the media, asking for more intervention in schools.  She said it might be feasible if, for example, the largest school in a “hub” of schools had a dentist and clinic, and serviced all schools within the area of the “hub”. Ms Martin referred to schools being in “clusters” so not every school would need such facilities. She suggested a doctor that went out daily to the other schools, but was based in the [largest] school.

Ms Martin was concerned at how such a programme might be funded and said it comes down to the most efficient and effective way of funding.

At this point, this blogger raised the point of how our taxation base inevitably comes into issues like this. The point was made that we have had seven  tax cuts enacted since 1986, and people wonder why we don’t have the social services we once had, or would like to have. It’s not rocket science – we still have to pay for things.

Ms Martin agreed and referred to a “brilliant speech” by Russell Norman (Green Co-Leader), where he revealed that government had lost $2  billion of of last year’s tax-take. She said, “three years of that and we wouldn’t have to sell any state assets“.

Had those tax cuts [2009 and 2010]  not happened, we could afford free healthcare for all children.

Ms Martin referred to the Mana Party’s financial transactions tax, which she said  Annette Sykes called “the Hone Heke” tax, and which “was worth looking at, and worth taking really seriously“. It was understood that such a FTT would have to be internationally implemented, as it might otherwise risk causing a capital-flight.

[Blogger’s note; it’s refreshing to see a politician referring openly and honestly to good ideas from other political parties, instead of remainly stubbornly ‘tribal’  on party-policy issues.  May this local form of ‘detente’ flourish and thrive.]

Discussion turned to school meals, as per one of Ms Heka’s petitions. Ms Martin stated asked if the petition was calling for full, hot cafetaria-type meals, or “brown-bagged” lunches? She said she had costed “brown bagged” lunches  consisting of a sandwich, muffin, piece of fruit, and a drink, at $3.52 per bag.

There was a question as to whether all children should be given school meals (whether cafeteria-style or bagged lunch) or whether it should be targetted only.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

In depth discussion surrounding the nature of school meals drew constructive discussion from Jazmine and Tracey.

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The pros and cons of targetting were weighed. The concensus seemed to be that targetting children from  low-income families would likely end up as a form of stigmatising.  One idea that seemed to have merit was a universal free school lunch, with an opt-out choice for parents who did not feel the need to participate.

In such an event, parents opting out could select from a range of charities where the money could be re-allocated, perhaps to other charities working with children or increased dental care . It was agreed that there were several options open to how such a programme could be managed and that a fair, workable solution was not beyond our abilities.

Ms Heka asked how NZ First would implement the programmes that her petitions were promoting.

Ms Martin replied by stating that NZ First believed that the primary cause of poverty in New Zealand was a lack of jobs,

People aren’t working. We have to create more jobs,” she said. “One way to do that is to cap the New Zealand dollar like some other countries do, which creates more employment through more exports.”

Ms Heka then asked Ms Martin about introducing a warrant of fitness for all rental housing in New Zealand. She asked if NZ First had a policy on this issue.

Ms Martin replied,

We don’t. But I think it’s a great idea!”

Ms Martin  added that the suggestion of a warrant of fitness for all rental properties tied in with NZ First’s minimum standards of care for the elderly. She said “why  would we not actually  come up with a national standard  in the same way what you’re talking about, which is we’re talking about rental properties,” and added “we’d certainly be interested“.

The discussion moved to a related issue, and Ms Heka asked about NZ First’s policy regarding having a high-ranking minister – or even the Prime Minister – as the Minister for Children. The premise being that if the Prime Minister was also the Minister for Children, then it would give extra impetus to policies as they might impact on his portfolio; the nations young people.

Ms Martin agreed saying,

Well, to keep that in the view, I would have thought. To make sure that it’s part of every conversation; how will this, downstream, affect children.

If the Prime Minister was Minister for children, it was suggested, then as with US President, Harry Truman,  “The Buck Stops Here” on child poverty issues.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Discussion moved to having a high-ranking minister for children, as children were the future of this country and nothing could be more important than the wellbeing of our next generation.

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It was suggested that NZ First could make this a priority, for the future of New Zealand. Ms Martin agreed it was a matter she would raise with the NZF caucus.

The issue of Kiwi migration was touched upon, with the suggestion that people – especially young folk – were leaving New Zealand, not just because of lower wages here, but because they felt no connection with society and thus were able to up-and-leave for “greener/richer pastures” in Australia. Because we weren’t looking after them, they had no roots to keep them in New Zealand.

At that point Ms Heka, speaking from deep within her heart, gave us an insight into how young people were viewing things around them,

It feels unfair. It feels like… like if you’re not rich, you’re not counted in society. That’s the feeling I get… the feeling youth get.  I talk with people my age, in my group and stuff and that’s the feeling that they get, they don’t want to be in New Zealand ’cause the feelings not good, not right. And they feel like you’re not being looked after, and stuff.

What I think is that child poverty, like,  I feel like  it’s  swept under the carpet.  And the government, they’re not really tackling it straight ahead. It’s just being talked about; something being hidden and nothing’s done about it. They’re going around in circles. And then you got  all these children suffering and nothing’s… no one cares really…

… In the community you’ve got the Salvation Army, people like that helping but that’s not enough. We need the government to step up and actually be the leaders of it.

Ms Martin replied, and said,

So with regard to how you said about... “

At this point, she paused. Ms Heka had spoken about youth and their feelings about disconnection. It gave her pause for thought. Ms Martin continued,

“… it is an interesting feeling that is happening, and you said about  it’s unfair, that actually the country itself doesn’t necessarily care about it’s citizens. And if you look at the turnout , the voter turnout, that now we’ve  also got  citizens that think actually, ‘I can’t make a difference either, so why should I vote?”.  Now there you’ve got a real problem. Because that will get to a certain level inside your society and people will revolt.”

She added ,

I’ll take all these things back… I’ll take it back to caucus; caucus will meet again in a fortnight when Parliament comes back [from recess] and ask the guys to to start working towards policy  areas for this, for 2014.”

At the concklusion of our allotted time, Ms Heka asked if she could be kept informed on NZ First’s progress on developing the ideas that had been discussed. Ms Martin readily agreed and provided  Ms Heka with her direct contact details.

Ms Heka then asked Ms Martin if she would sign her petitions, to which the MP happily agreed.

Continued at Ms Heka Goes To Wellington  (Part #Rua)

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* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

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Additional Media

Divided Auckland: Overcrowding a hotbed for infections

Jazmine Heka grabs politicians’ attention

Teen becomes leading voice on child poverty

Girl with a mission

Teenager brings child poverty crusade to Parliament

Other Blogger’s posts

Jazmine Heka – Hero of the Week

Related

HIPPY – home interaction programme for parents and youngsters

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Did the Minister lie to New Zealand?

17 April 2012 5 comments

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On 15 April, Minister of Energy and Resources, Phil Heatley, appeared on TVNZ’s Q+A  for an interview on the controversial subject of fracking.

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Fracking has been banned in several countries because of fears it causes earthquakes. The process forces water and chemicals at high pressure into layers of rock to release natural gas or petroleum, and has raised health and safety concerns because of the poisons involved.

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Heatley appears to have made up his mind on the issue, saying,

No. I’ve got no concerns.”

The Minister seemed more focused on potential job creation, citing Taranaki’s petroleum industry,

Well, we know that in the Taranaki, you’ve got about 30- 3500 jobs directly– “

And,

“… in Taranaki, they’ve been doing it for 20 years, and they’ve had no problems.”

When the interviewer, Shane Taurima, asked about the potential of  fracking to cause earthquakes – as has been documented overseas – Heatley replied,

Well, it appears from Taranaki’s experience of two decades, water-quality testing, seismic survey-

… they’ve advised me that where we do it in New Zealand, in the Taranaki, it hasn’t caused it there, and that gives me confidence.

Shane Taurima then referred specifically to fracking around Christchurch.

In November last year, Christchurch’s Spreydon/Heathcote Community Board  unanimously  passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the process,

The following Notice of Motion was submitted by Paul McMahon:
The Board received the notice of motion:
1.1 and 1.2 are noted in item 11 of this agenda.
1.3 That the Board request the Council to call for a moratorium on any hydraulic fracking in
Canterbury until an independent inquiry into the risks have been conducted by a suitable body
such as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
The Board received the notice of motion and, with the consent of Paul McMahon, the addition of
attachment A maps of the permit areas, clause 1.2 and clause 1.3. The Notice of Motion was
seconded by Karolin Potter and being put to the meeting was declared carried unanimously.”

Heatley was questioned specifically on Christchurch’s move (@ 9.30 into the interview) to impose a moratorium,

SHANE
Because- Because the Christchurch City Council are the latest to declare their city-

PHIL
That’s right.

SHANE
free of fracking. They cite these concerns over water contamination and over the links to earthquakes. Are they simply overreacting?

PHIL
Well, the Christchurch City Council have decided unanimously to ban fracking. There has never been any fracking in Canterbury. There currently isn’t any fracking in Canterbury. And wait a minute. There’s no intention to have any fracking in Canterbury, so this council has suddenly come together, made a unanimous decision to-

Minister Heatly is either deliberately lying, or is woefully ignorant.

At least two  permits have been issued which will most likely involve fracking to be conducted around Greater Christchurch and south of the city, in Canterbury. A third permit (# 38264) refers to an area east of Bank’s Peninsula, and extending out to sea, potentially involving another contentious issue; deep sea drilling (by Anadarko).

Permit no 52614 has approval pending.

Permit no 52605 was aproved on 20 September 2011, to L&M Energy Limited. The Permit is of  an exploration type, with a duration for five years from issuance. An area of 3,600 square kilometres is involved.

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L&M Energy states on their website regarding their Canterbury project,

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L&M Energy Coal Seam Gas Permits

PEP52605 (South Canterbury) – 100%

PEP52605 (South Canterbury) is a 3,600km2 onshore permit located in the Canterbury Basin which was granted to L&M Energy on 20th September, 2011.

Prior exploration in this permit area has been minimal, with drilling generally undertaken in order to extend existing coal mines. Four coal and two petroleum wells were drilled in the 1970’s.

Because of the relatively unexplored nature of this permit, limited data is available.  In order to address this insufficiency, L&M Energy’s work programme includes extensive geological modelling and analysis. Additionally, the Company will look to assess the permit potential and evaluate structures, adding considerably to the knowledge base of the area. For more information, see our full work programme at the link below.

See: PEP52605 (South Canterbury) Permit Map from the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals Website

See: PEP52605 (South Canterbury) Work Programme from the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals Website

Whilst none of the above documentation refers directly to L&M Energy Ltd, and the company does not readily refer to it’s use, L&M obliquely acknowledges employing the process. The following is known for certain,

  • Permit #52605 is intended to prospect for coal seam gas
  • Coal Seam Gas is extracted by the use of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”)
  • L&M Energy refers to hydraulic fracturing on their website, “…In the USA recent advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have lowered the cost of production and increased reserves very rapidly, such that shale gas is now a major contributor to USA gas reserves.
  • L&M Energy’s 2010 report, “Commercialising Coal Seam Gas in Southland”  visually depicts the  “fracking” process, though does not refer to it by name,

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Source

So is  L&M managing director, Kent Anson, telling us the complete truth, when he was quoted on 7 November last year as stating,

L&M has not undertaken fracking in the permit, is not currently undertaking fracking in the permit, and has not formed a plan to undertake fracking in the permit.”

Yet, a month prior to that story in the ‘Canterbury Star‘,  when Kent Anson was interviewed on Radio NZ’s  ‘Checkpoint‘,  he stated categorically,

We wouldn’t handicap ourselves by any means. We will review all areas, involve all stakeholders during that process, but it’s not something which we wouldn’t discount.”

Perhaps  L&M Energy may well be honest when they state that they won’t be employing fracking  during  their exploratory phase of Permit 52605. But  if coal seam gas is discovered in commercial quantities, then the company will most likely  resort to that process because it is a cheaper option. As L&M states on it’s own website,

In the USA recent advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have lowered the cost of production and increased reserves very rapidly, such that shale gas is now a major contributor to USA gas reserves.” – Source

So when Minister Heatley stated on Q+A last Sunday,

There has never been any fracking in Canterbury. There currently isn’t any fracking in Canterbury. And wait a minute. There’s no intention to have any fracking in Canterbury…”

How can he state there is “no intention to have any fracking in Canterbury” when even L&M’s  managing director, Kent Anson admits that, “it’s not something which we wouldn’t discount“?!

The evidence is clear that L&M Energy has been using fracking in Taranaki, and most likely will use the process in Canterbury.

Minister Heatley is either woefully ignorant of his own portfolio and worryingly doesn’t know what the drilling industry is up to – or he’s telling us fibs.

Either way, Heatley and National need to be up to speed on this issue. “Fracking” has been associated with earthquakes in the United States, and using such a process in a seismically-active region like Canterbury has to be one of the craziest notions yet considered by any corporation or government.

Cantabrians have a right to be concerned at L&M’s intentions. Indeed, this is not just a matter of fracking-chemicals polluting water tables and other environmental concerns – but is likely to be a matter of life and death for people in and around Christchurch.

Nature has been pretty tough on Cantabrians in the last twelve months. The last thing these folk need is more earthquakes – this time caused by stupid human activity.

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Postscript

DIGGING INTO SHAKY GROUND

Does fracking cause earthquakes? In Canterbury, where L&M is exploring for coal seam gas, this question is at the forefront of the fracking debate. The answer, according to a US geophysicist who specialises in induced seismicity, is yes. American geophysicist Michael Hasting told a Christchurch public meeting late last year that the injection of fluids deep underground under huge pressure – in the order of 7000 to 10,000 PSI – causes the rock to fracture, producing “induced” earthquakes.

“You basically need these earthquakes to produce the fracture system and permeability in reservoirs.” Most are too small to feel at the surface, with 95% smaller than magnitude 1. But Hasting says fracking can cause large earthquakes in seismically active areas. “If you’re injecting high-pressure fluids into a fault or near a fault that is active and near failure – that’s stressed to the point where it’s near to going – the fluids can lubricate the fault and cause it to slip.”

It has happened. “In Colorado at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, they were injecting fluids along a fault over a period of a few years and they noticed increased seismicity in the area. On August 9, 1967, they had a magnitude 5.5 event.” The project, which was to dispose of wastewater, was shut down as a result.

In the Swiss city of Basel, fracking at a geothermal project is claimed to have triggered several earthquakes in the magnitude 3 range between December 2006 and January 2007. It, too, was subsequently shut down. And in 1979 through to the late 1980s at a geothermal field in Baja California, there were several magnitude 5 events allegedly triggered by fracking, with the largest measuring 5.4. So, should fracking go ahead in Canterbury without first checking the earthquake safety of the region?

“No,” says Hasting, who stressed he was a supporter of fracking if it is done well. “You shouldn’t do it. It would be absolutely irresponsible to go out in an area like Canterbury, which is a known area of tectonic fractures, and start injecting fluids without understanding the reservoir, the system, and where you are injecting these fluids. You want to determine where these faults are and how close they are to failure before anything is done. You can’t 100% guarantee that you won’t induce a large event in a tectonically active area like New Zealand.”

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References

Hydraulic Fracturing (“Fracking”)

Q+A: Transcript of Phil Heatley interview

Q+A: Video of  Phil Heatley interview

Report of a meeting of the Spreydon/Heathcote Community Board held on Tuesday 1 November 2011

Ministry of Economic Development Permit Summary #52605

Petroleum Exploration Permit #52605

Ministry of Economic DevelopmentPermit 52605 Report – 16/04/2012

L&M Energy Ltd

Canterbury Star: Fears fracking could cause quakes

Radio NZ:  Fracking could soon be used near quake city

The Listener:  Fracking in New Zealand

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