Thursday, March 25, 2010

Brownlee lied

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee has admitted he "overstated" the value of gold and silver on Great Barrier Island. His discussion document [PDF] asserts "a potential value of $4.3 billion at today’s prices", but the underlying geologists report [PDF] estimates the value at only $1 billion. Brownlee's response to this disparity?

"Look I think &the numbers are always going to be all over the show until you get something out of the ground, you simply don't know what the story is," Brownlee says.

"I'd go with Richard Barker; he's the expert on these things," says Brownlee.

Which invites the question of why he didn't "go with Richard Barker" in the first place. But I guess his numbers were just too small.

Its also an awfully casual attitude to a $3 billion error. In case anyone's forgotten, this is a key government document, aimed at making the case for a highly controversial policy. You'd expect the numbers it gives to be accurate. The fact that they are not calls the rest of the government's figures - and indeed, its self-proclaimed desire to have a "rational discussion" with the public - into doubt. Even if we were interested in approaching this as a cost-benefit analysis (and I'm not, anymore than I'm interested in a CBA on killing my cat), this is impossible when the government straps the chicken by lying about the benefits while refusing to calculate the costs.