31 May 2013

No backroom deal with oil industry, says minister

11:46 am on 31 May 2013

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says there's nothing wrong with ministers being lobbied, as in the end the Government makes the decision whether or not to change laws.

The Labour Party's accusing Mr Joyce of doing a backroom deal, resulting in a law change introducing hefty fines and stiff penalties for protesters interfering with offshore mining operations.

Labour says the government bowed to the wishes of the mining industry, and changed the law.

Official papers reveal Steven Joyce had back-to-back meetings with industry representatives a month before work began on the law changes.

Mr Joyce says he can't recall whether those changes were specifically raised at the meetings.

He says the industry had expressed its concerns about safety after a deep sea exploration vessel was targeted last year.

But he says that, in the end, government ministers make the final decision about whether a law change is necessary.