The Mapp Report: The ETS Rush
THE ETS RUSH
It is starting to look like we are in the last two weeks of this Parliament. The government is trying to rush through under urgency the Emissions Trading Scheme. We all know that the government has bought off the Greens and New Zealand First – we just don’t know the amount.
National has consistently argued that the whole approach of the government to this issue has been flawed. The government put in over 1,000 amendments in the last three days of the Select Committee process. There was never a proper consultation on these amendments with the industry groups affected. The government now expects to bulldoze the Bill through Parliament. No doubt there will be a whole lot more amendments, and once again there will be no consultation.
National’s six principles
A genuinely consultative process intended to build enduring consensus would have been more considered. Given that National does actually support the concept of an ETS, there should have been a proper cross-party dialogue and various views accommodated. National has stressed six principles:
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. 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 enterprises 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.
Labour’s final act
But Labour is having none of that. They simply want this Bill as their testament – I would say their last will and testament.
National has promised that in government we would make sure the six principles are accommodated. We will amend the Bill and incorporate the six principles within nine months of becoming government.
For those readers wondering why I haven’t commented on the Winston affair(s), it is because I am a member of the Privileges Committee. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday next week. Mr Peters, Mr Henry and Mr Glenn have all been invited to give evidence.
OUT AND ABOUT
Last night I was at the Westpac Enterprise North Shore Business Excellence Awards dinner. There were over 600 businesspeople on the Shore celebrating the success of Shore business. The sheer range of business entrepreneurship, talent and innovation was extremely impressive. So many of the businesses had started recently, and had already accumulated substantial international success.
The overall winner was Orica Powder and Industrial Coatings. This company is working in an area that is hugely vulnerable to large scale Asian manufacturing companies. Yet the company, due to its innovation and its success in meeting customer needs, has shown solid growth.
Part of that success has been built on the flexibility that New Zealand companies have. They are not locked into long production runs – they can meet particular customer specifications. As with so many areas of endeavour, New Zealand is finding its niche. The advantage of being small is flexibility – in providing tailor made solutions. As a nation, we pride ourselves on our ingenuity. The businesses who were finalists last night were an impressive demonstration of the Kiwi can do attitude.