At today’s Commerce Select Committee hearing on Solid Energy’s financial review, opposition members of the committee and a packed public gallery left Solid Energy bosses in no doubt that the good times are over.

Solid Energy’s top brass, expecting to get their tummies rubbed by compliant Government members of the Committee, instead suffered the discomfort of a public grilling by Opposition members on topics including the financial viability of the Southland lignite proposals and the consequences of Asset Sales for the Crown’s shareholding – and health and safety issues.

As if that wasn’t enough, at the end of the hearing, the public gallery left Don Elder and his colleagues and the Government in no doubt of the depth of opposition to Solid Energy’s plans to open up massive new coal and lignite mines by standing in unison with a 5m-long sign saying “keep the coal in the hole: protect the climate.”

Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Tim Jones, who was present at the hearing, said “Solid Energy and the Government had better get used to this. The massive new coal and lignite mines that Solid Energy plans to open, with the Government’s backing, would be disastrous for the climate and ruinous for the local environment. That’s why we are committed to stopping these proposals going ahead.”

“New Zealanders have repeatedly demonstrated that we do not want our environment ripped apart and the climate ruined by fossil fools like Solid Energy and the current Government,” Tim Jones continued. “Just two weeks ago, Wellington told John Key loud and clear that we do not support his pro-mining agenda when he opened the Wellington offices of Aussie coalminers Bathurst resources.”

“Today, we delivered the same message to Solid Energy. It’s a message that’s so clear even Don Elder and this Government should be able to understand it: Keep the Coal in the Hole.

“Of course, that’s not a message Don Elder wants to hear,” said Tim Jones. “He’s much happier collecting his $1.4 million annual salary and swanning around the stage at international mining conferences. But he’d better get used to it, because until Solid Energy drops its plans for new coal and lignite mines, he’s going to hear it again and again and again.”


Coal in the Hole in Select Committee

Coal in the Hole on the steps of Parliament