New Zealand’s management of its strategic assets: just right or in need of recalibration (and in learning from Canberrra)?

This article has been contributed by CHRISTIAN NOVAK, who has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in history from the University of Sydney.  He currently works for a Wellington based communications company. 

With the global economy already massively disrupted after two years of a global pandemic and now, high inflation, the Russia-Ukraine conflict demonstrates the need for sovereign governments to protect and manage their strategic assets – in this case, energy supply and the risks associated with them.

Amid soaring fuel prices and cost-of living pressures, the closure of our sole oil refinery at Marsden Point calls into question New Zealand’s approach to energy security. Considering the Government struck a deal with Rio Tinto to keep the Tiwai Point Aluminum Smelter open, it puts the spotlight on the government’s decision not to underwrite the refinery. This is because the smelter is not a ‘lifeline utility,’ as defined under New Zealand’s Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.

Compare our policy on Marsden to Australia, which is subsidising its two oil refineries on both strategic and national security grounds. The question posed, therefore, is: how does our government view security of supply of a strategic resource?

Australia, like New Zealand, faced similar problems with its refineries – scale and distance, therefore cost. Continue reading “New Zealand’s management of its strategic assets: just right or in need of recalibration (and in learning from Canberrra)?”