The National Party's spokesman for energy and resources, Jonathan Young, has called the Government's decision to ban gas and oil petroleum exploration economic vandalism, saying it was a case of "killing the golden goose".

Young told the Herald this morning he was "very disappointed" the Government had not consulted the industry before making the announcement.

"It's also a policy they never forecast prior to the election. I think they're just throwing the industry under the bus."

The move by the Government comes off the back of a Westpac report, which said that New Zealand could save as much as $30 billion in the long-term by immediate and gradual action on climate change.


However, Young has warned the Government's move is likely to have an immediate impact on Taranaki where 4,500 people rely on the oil and gas industry for work.

Read more: To act now or later: The $30 billion climate change question

"They are now potentially at risk of losing a well-paid job," he said.

"They have issues around their families, their mortgages. You have a region that has only 110,000 people, so you're looking at a good percentage of that population being affected."

Earlier this month, the Government announced via Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, a $100,000 fund to be invested towards research on how to transition Taranaki as a clean energy centre.

"That's the equivalent to probably one year's income in the oil and gas sector," said Young.

"It's nowhere near enough, and if they are true to their word for a just transition for regions like Taranaki, then that's just the tip of the iceberg and they had better step up and make some significant investment to help the thousands of people in this industry transition."

The Government also announced an additional $20 million injection into the region, the bulk of which would be invested in the tourism industry.


Young said that the decision by the Government to end oil and gas exploration will result in investors pulling their funds out of the local industry.

"The oil and gas industry do investments over decades, not just a couple of years," Young said.

"Following previous comments the Prime Minister made there was huge concern [in Taranaki] that the industry would essentially lose the investment that was needed, especially as companies were making their strategic decisions around that investment."

These concerns, Young said, would only become more pronounced now.

In advising the Government not to kill the golden goose, Young references the example of Norway, which has used its oil-earned wealth to invest in green energy.

"Norway are world leaders, but they do that through giving all electric vehicles free electricity, free parking and exemption from any congestion taxes - arguably afforded through their wealth derived from oil production," Young said.

"It's important to appreciate, as is happening in Norway, that it takes wealth and cash flow to enable innovation for a better future."

Young also said that additional money earned from the oil and gas industry could have been used toward the transition to green energy.

"Around the world today there are increasing investments into alternative energies," Young said.

"[The petroleum sector] sees the horizon of change looming before them."