Greenpeace has hit back at the Minister for Energy and Resources for his slight on Kiwis concerned at the Government's expansion of the country's fossil fuels sector.
Phil Heatley was quoted in yesterday's Taranaki Daily News saying "they are not really New Zealand. They have concerns but they are not really middle-class New Zealand."
Greenpeace climate campaigner Steve Abel said oil on the beaches was a concern of many so-called "middle-class" New Zealanders.
"And of course it should be pointed out that there are many people who may not meet Mr Heatley's criteria for being ‘middle-class' but who are still New Zealanders," Mr Abel said.
"Minister Heatley has demonstrated that he is primarily interested in representing the interests of the oil industry, not those of New Zealanders, many of whom have sensible and legitimate concerns about the risks of deep sea oil drilling."
Last week it was announced Texas-based exploration company Anadarko Petroleum would start deep-water drilling for oil and gas off the New Zealand coast by the end of next year.
Mr Abel said the dangers of deep-water drilling were real and a threat to both the environment and the economy.
"New Zealanders saw what happened in the Gulf of Mexico, and many directly experienced the impact of the relatively small Rena oil spill in the Bay of Plenty.
"That was a wake-up call for many of us."
He said Mr Heatley had done a "Mitt Romney" to all New Zealanders with concerns about oil washing up on beaches.
"To refer to those New Zealanders as ‘not really New Zealand', is like Mitt Romney writing off 47 per cent of US voters as not his concern."
- Taranaki Daily News
Testing drugs on animals is:Related story: Animal tests 'key' to brain disease cures