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Hodgson must resign over billion-dollar cock-up

Hon. Dr Nick Smith

16 June 2005

Hodgson must resign over billion-dollar cock-up

National's Environment spokesman, Nick Smith, says Pete Hodgson must accept responsibility and resign over the billion-dollar error made in calculating New Zealand's carbon credit balance.

"The scale of this error cannot be explained by changes in forest plantings or increased emissions. The reality is that Labour has made a gross miscalculation that will cost New Zealand dearly in growth in jobs and incomes.

"When the Kyoto Protocol was ratified in 2002, Labour said we would have surplus credits of 54 million tonnes. They have now admitted a deficit of 36 million tonnes. This 90 million tonne difference amounts to $1.3 billion at $15 a tonne, the price of Labour's carbon tax, or $3 billion at $34 a tonne, the current price for carbon on European markets.

"This shocking revelation exposes the folly of Labour's decision to rush in and ratify Kyoto ahead of Australia and the United States.

"Pete Hodgson dismissed National's opposition to early ratification, saying 'would they set fire to a $200 million cheque?' There is no cheque, Mr Hodgson, just a billion-dollar bill.

"Serious questions also have to be asked as to why the Minister has hidden this information for two months when it was reported to the United Nations on 15 April.

"And releasing the Niwa report on the effects of climate change at the same time is a clumsy effort to hide this monumental cock-up.

"This report also highlights just how hard it is to reduce emissions. There is no evidence that higher petrol prices by way of a carbon tax reduce consumption. It reinforces just how difficult and expensive compliance with Kyoto will be.

"National will be reviewing its Kyoto policy in light of this shock announcement. We need to weigh up whether or not it is in New Zealand's best interests to be the only country in the southern hemisphere with Kyoto obligations," says Dr Smith.

ENDS

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