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Reaction to discussion document “madness”

Monday 18 December 2006

Reaction to discussion document “madness” and “sheer idiocy”

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Jim Anderton has expressed disgust at the all too familiar hysterical response from the National Party and forestry interests who have described a discussion document released today as “madness” and “sheer idiocy”.

“It’s obvious some people have been writing their press releases before they have read the discussion document. The Government is consulting on a range of options, some of which are mutually exclusive; to address climate change in the land use sectors and no decisions have been taken. Nowhere in the discussion document will you find a ‘proposed $13,000 per hectare retrospective tax’. This is nothing but a beat up.

“The quantum of $13,000 is the real and actual cost of deforestation to the New Zealand taxpayer and approximates the cost to the environment. The question the public needs to be asking is who should be paying for this?

“At our press conference this morning we suggested that our preference was for a tradable permit regime, not a flat charge, because this would produce greater flexibility and lower costs for the forestry sector. The Government is also looking to exempt small forest owners, such as farm foresters, from deforestation restrictions.

“Some in the forestry sector have incorrectly claimed that forests to be affected by a charge are being prevented from receiving credits but facing liabilities. All forests maturing in the First Commitment Period, and therefore at risk of controls being imposed, were planted prior to 1990 so are not eligible for carbon credits in the first place. In respect of land that does qualify under Kyoto for carbon credits, where the Government has retained the credits the Government has made it clear it will retain all future liabilities.

“The Labour-Progressive Government is looking forward to a constructive dialogue with those serious about planting trees, not playing politics. The National Party clearly has its head in the sand about climate change and deforestation. Their policy will cost taxpayers more than $600 million in deforestation liabilities and is therefore fiscal madness,” Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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