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Gerry In The House: The Greens Walk The Plank

Gerry In The House
Column From Gerry Brownlee MP
27 May 2005

The Greens walk the plank

The Green Party this week announced their core plank for the election campaign - energy. Because the election campaign begins in earnest over the next few months, and because the Greens pitch themselves as Labour's coalition partner, the consequences of this policy need to be seriously considered.

One of the 'highlights' of the policy is the installation of 500,000 solar water heating panels in homes. Apart from the time it would take to build and install that many units, I just wonder what the uptake might be. And even with the savings in energy consumption, we will still be facing an electricity crisis in just few years' time.

We need an increase in electricity generation, and we need it now.

The Greens talk a lot about sustainable energy, but you have to question just how serious they are about keeping New Zealand going, when in the past decade they have opposed every new hydro generation plan that has come up for discussion. When you get down to it, most major public buildings have a high level of energy efficiency. There are many things that can be done to bring down energy consumption. But you still can't deny the facts - we need more energy.

This Green Party policy should set alarm bells ringing in businesses and homes as the Greens look set to make this policy key to coalition negotiations with Labour.

Tax package

You can expect to see National's tax package announced in the next few weeks. This will be significantly better than anything offered by Labour in the Budget. It will be much more growth-focused and will give hard-working New Zealanders something back for their efforts. Panic attacks galore

One of the big political stories of the week was the announcement that New Zealand's WTO Ambassador and Chair of the Agricultural Negotiations in Geneva, Tim Groser, is to stand as a list candidate for National at the election. This caused panic attacks throughout the Beehive.

Tim is an outstanding New Zealander, and will bring a huge range of skills to the National team. Both Helen Clark and Jim Sutton, Minister for Trade Negotiations, came out all guns blazing on Monday, and put petty party politics ahead of the national interest by saying Tim should step down from his roles. Tim, of course, has stepped down as Ambassador, which he had to do by law, but his negotiating role at the WTO is not a political one.

The trade talks are worth billions of dollars to the New Zealand economy, and the work of the Agricultural Committee is at the heart of the negotiations and the entire Doha trade round of talks. The attempt to undermine him risk serious damage to our economic interests and our international reputation in world trade affairs.

Jim Sutton is looking particularly red-faced over this incident, because only a few weeks ago he couldn't praise Tim enough. By Monday, it seemed, he would have done anything to be rid of him, even labelling his intention to serve the people of New Zealand in a different way as a betrayal.

Thankfully, Helen Clark and Jim Sutton have come to their senses, backed down, and are allowing Tim to stay in his negotiating role till a crucial meeting on the Doha round in July. Election rumour mill goes into overdrive

It's pretty much anyone's guess when the election is going to be, but this week NZ Press Association told us that their sources in the Beehive had told them it would be on 30 July.

This is an interesting prospect, because there is no reason to go that early. Labour are obviously starting to panic about the prospect of an economic downturn and the prospect of rising interest rates. They are also acutely aware that the Government has been looking increasingly shaky in recent months, following a number of crises and scandals.

She has always maintained that she intended her Government to go full term. 30 July is three years and three days after the last election, so she can argue that technically the election is not early. What this argument does not take into account is that the last election was early and elections are traditionally held in November.

This latest rumour may just be someone in the Beehive having fun with someone in the media, or it maybe the Prime Minister's way of leaking the story so that when 30 July is announced it will be no surprise.

You can be assured that whatever the date is, National will be ready.

And finally...

... all the best to the Crusaders for the big game at Jade Stadium tomorrow night.

Gerry Brownlee

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