The standoff over deep sea drilling off the Raglan coast is threatening a split in Labour.
Labour MP Shane Jones has backed oil drilling giant Anadarko in a move which puts him at odds with other members of the caucus, including environment spokeswoman Moana Mackey who today called for a slow down in the mineral exploration programme.
Jones has made no secret of his pro-mining stance and has taken potshots at the Green Party over its anti-mining stance. But he could also find himself increasingly at odds with many in grassroots Labour as well.
Speaking on Maori TV's Te Kaea tonight, Jones was outspoken about attempts to stop Anadarko from deep sea drilling and said the protesters should remember that the company had a statutory right to be there.
"Protesters need to bear in mind we are buying oil out of the Gulf of Mexico and other far-flung places when we should be focusing on making an industry in our own country."
Anadarko was spending a million dollars a day on its programme and that was good for New Zealand, Jones said.
But Mackey appeared to back the protesters and blamed the Government for Greenpeace's announcement that it intends to challenge the Environmental Protection Authority's (EPA) decision to allow Anadarko to carry out deep sea drilling off the Raglan coast .
She said the regulatory environment under which Anadarko was permitted to drill was "deliberately permissive" and the process had been a shambles.
She also accused the Government of being desperate to expedite deep sea oil and gas exploration because it had no plan B for jobs - which also puts her at odds with Jones, who believes mining is a potential boon for jobs.
Labour leader David Cunliffe was unavailable for comment.
- Fairfax Media