17 Feb 2014

Oil roadshows propaganda - Greens

10:12 am on 17 February 2014

The Green Party says the oil and gas industry is targeting schoolchildren in Taranaki with pro-oil propaganda.

A roadshow run by New Zealand Oil and Gas, Tag Oil and Beach Energy is visiting several schools in the region from Monday

The What Lives Down Under roadshow will stop at schools in Patea, Opunake, Waverley and Stratford.

It features displays that show children fossils and geology, as well as describing the oil and gas work being done in the region.

The Greens say it's disturbing because schools are not there for corporate interest.

"This is a huge propaganda exercise by the oil companies in Taranaki to get the hearts and minds of mainly primary schoolchildren to have a corporate input into the school and tell the kids that oil and gas is the future," says Greens' education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

Tag Oil's drilling site at Cheal, Taranaki.

Tag Oil's drilling site at Cheal, Taranaki. Photo: PHOTO NZ

New Zealand Oil and Gas chief executive Andrew Knight rejects that.

He says they are teaching the children about geo-science. "We're definitely not saying to people we're going to make life good for you cos the oil industry's good. What we're saying to people is "Here, have some understanding of the geo-science behind what we do'."

"That's what we do at schools' level cos it wouldn't be appropriate for us to be promoting and putting propaganda into schools that was pro-industry. What we do is put science into the schools, because we're a science-based business."

Mr Knight says they will not be saying to the students that life will be better for them because of the industry and they will also talk to parents about their concerns.

Ms Delahunty says the roadshow should be balanced with mention of climate change and environmental and health risks

Education Minister Hekia Parata says she's not aware of the roadshow but has encouraged businesses to share their expertise in their local areas.