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The Mapp Report - 17 November 2006

The Mapp Report

The Environment and the Market

A month ago Denese and I saw “An Inconvenient Truth”, the film by Al Gore. And of course he was in town this week. It is very hard to ignore or deny the compelling evidence that he presents on the prospects of harmful climate change. Prudence would suggest taking a precautionary approach, a bit like taking out insurance.

Last night Dr Nick Smith, MP for Nelson, Dr Jonathan Coleman, MP for Northcote, and I held a meeting in Northcote on the Environment. This was based on the National Environment Discussion paper

Peter Nielson, CEO of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, has said it is the most substantial political contribution in the environment in the last 20 years.

What can we do?

Politics should be about the contest of ideas and of the best way forward for our country. National has put forward the idea of “cap and trade” for carbon emissions in the electricity sector. That means C02 emissions would be capped at current levels. Any emissions above that level would require emission permits, which would only be available from people who were capturing C02. In short, a coal power station owner would have to buy permits from a forester in order to build the station. The C02 emissions of the station would be offset by additional tree planting. Obviously this increases the cost of coal fuelled generation, which will then force generators to consider cleaner and better technology. This would reduce the need to purchase as many permits. The whole intent is to use market mechanisms to drive technology forward, in order to deal with the effects of climate change.

The discussion document covers the whole range of environmental issues. Imaginative market based suggestions have been put forward to deal with problems. Your feedback will be essential as we finalise policy in this crucial area.

A game of two halves?

The Stadium debate continues this week with even more confusion on the facts.

The government is forcing a choice between Eden Park and the Waterfront Stadium. Yet North Harbour Stadium meets so many of the essential criteria for the building. This illustrates the absurdity and disorganisation of the process for the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Prices seem to be plucked from thin air. There is reluctance by anyone to put a price on the Waterfront Stadium project in an effort to avoid alarming the public on what they could face in taxes to pay for it. A minimum of $500 million has been quoted but the Government’s own builders, Fletchers, says it will be much higher.

The city has less than two weeks to make a decision. But the government has screwed the scrum by refusing to examine the facts and consider the most cost effective option – the North Harbour Stadium.

North Shore feedback

My electorate office has been inundated with emails and phone calls by North Shore residents urging that the North Harbour Stadium be placed in the forefront for consideration for Stadium New Zealand. They are disheartened that money is being wasted on a new Stadium on the Waterfront when a cheaper option is available on the North Shore. Surely a cheaper option will free up essential money for transport and other critical infrastructure for the city.

The inevitable traffic congestion at Eden Park and the Waterfront will not be a problem in the North Shore. We have the Western Ring Route being build from next year. The Busway will be built. Albany town centre is being transformed. And a dramatic new North Harbour Stadium would be an investment for a whole range of sport in the future rather than a money pit like the Waterfront, which will be competing with the freshly built Vector Arena.

The National Party has committed itself to having New Zealand ready to host the 2011 Cup. But an informed decision will be the only way New Zealand can exhibit itself as a professional host nation of Rugby enthusiasts to the rest of the world. If on considering the facts – traffic congestion, building costs and creating a stadium which will be an investment for the future – North Harbour Stadium is the only viable option.

17 November 2006

Dr Wayne Mapp

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