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New energy minister at odds with old

Hon Nick Smith MP - National Party Energy Spokesman

21 March 2006

New energy minister at odds with old

Newly appointed Energy Minister Trevor Mallard has refused to give the assurance his predecessor, David Parker, made that the lights won't go out this winter.

National Party Energy spokesman Nick Smith said today that when confronted in Parliament, Mr Mallard would not stand by Mr Parker's comment last week that there would be 'no rolling black-outs this winter'.

"This country is facing an energy crisis this winter," says Dr Smith. "Mr Mallard has only been hours in the new role and he's already ducking for cover.

"The low inflows to the hydro lakes continue. The latest figures show inflows continue to be low into the South Island hydro lakes.

"On top of that, businesses like Comalco and others are cutting back production. In the meantime the country is burning record amounts of coal to keep supplies up.

"Added to all that is a creaking energy infrastructure and dillydallying around with vital upgrade projects like transmission lines.

"Now we have the spectacle of the new energy minister disagreeing with the old and refusing to back his predecessor's confident claim the lights won't be going out this winter.

"Does the new minister have confidence in the Electricity Commission? And what is the public to think of this growing crisis?

"Labour's handling of the energy portfolio by successive ministers has been abysmal and the latest comments give no confidence anybody can fix it.

"Three changes of Minister in 15 months has just added to the uncertainty."

ENDS

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