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Labour's agenda no reason to ram flawed ETS

Bill English MP
National Party Finance Spokesman

22 August 2008

Labour's political agenda no reason to ram flawed ETS through

National Party Finance spokesman Bill English says the Emissions Trading Scheme is a major piece of economic and environmental legislation that will impact on the lives of every Kiwi for years, so is too important to be rushed through Parliament just prior to an election.

“This is more about politics and the upcoming election than it is about writing good, fair, lasting law that doesn’t cost us jobs and growth in the longer term. The Electoral Finance Act was also railroaded through Parliament by a slim majority for purely political reasons, and look how much of a shambles that law turned out to be?”

Mr English says the ETS is critically important legislation, the changes to it are likely to be substantial to accommodate minor party demands, and the public should be given a formal opportunity to comment on it.

“Why the mad rush to pass this bill in the days that remain in this Parliament? Its implementation has been deferred by two years by the Prime Minister. Is it really in the country’s best interests for an unpopular administration to be pushing through such crucial legislation with the cobbled-together support of minor parties?”

Mr English says National has a set of principles about the shape of any ETS:

1. The ETS must strike a balance between New Zealand’s environmental and economic interests. It should not attempt to make New Zealand a world leader on climate change.

2. The ETS should be fiscally neutral rather than providing billions of dollars in windfall gains to the government’s accounts at the expense of businesses and consumers. National does not think it’s responsible for government to use green initiatives to pad the Crown coffers while thinning out Kiwis’ wallets.

3. The ETS should be as closely aligned as possible to the planned Australian Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, with, where possible, common compliance regimes and tradability. National wants to closely co-operate with Australia as we develop our respective schemes. We note that Australia intends to release draft legislation in December and to introduce a bill to the House by March next year. National thinks it would be foolish to ignore this obvious opportunity to work with Australia, to share information and ideas.

4. The ETS should encourage the use of technologies that improve efficiency and reduce emissions intensity, rather than encourage an exodus of industries and their skilled staff to other countries.

5. The ETS needs to recognise the importance of small and medium enterprise and not discriminate against them in allocating emission permits.

6. The ETS should have the flexibility to respond to progress in international negotiations rather than setting a rigid schedule. This way, industry obligations can be kept in line with those of foreign competitors.

“National will not be voting for this ETS. If it is passed, a National-led Government will bring amending legislation to Parliament, give people another say, and pass it within nine months.”

ENDS

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