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Nats approach to ETS shambolic from start to end

24 September 2009
Media Statement

Nats approach to ETS shambolic from start to end

National’s muddled approach to climate change has hampered progress towards an effective and durable ETS for nine months, and its inferior version of the scheme will cost the Kiwi taxpayer dearly, Labour’s climate change spokesperson Charles Chauvel says.

“Labour saw the bill for the first time as Nick Smith began reading his speech this afternoon, despite the fact that it was apparently sitting in the Bills office from 9am this morning,” Charles Chauvel said.

“If it had taken the time to work with Labour in good faith on an enduring compromise, none of these games would have been necessary.”

“However, no one will be surprised at National’s latest antics – they are a continuation of the secrecy, double talk and gamesmanship it has displayed throughout the process.

“The Government will not release the officials' advice and the cabinet papers concerning the cost of the revised scheme: although we asked for this urgently under the Official Information Act on 15 September.

“It is clear that it will not be made available until after the statutory time limit, well into the select committee process.

“This gaming of the system means the public are denied the right to see the detailed costings of the scheme. Nick Smith’s evasions and selective presentation of the facts thus far mean the only way we will know the full costs and implications for this and subsequent generations of Kiwi taxpayers is to see these documents.

“The stakes of the game National is playing are exceptionally high. Its scheme will cost taxpayers an additional $2 billion up to 2030 and half a billion dollars each year thereafter (see next page).

“Labour has no choice but to roll back these amendments when next in office. National, by failing to negotiate with Labour in good faith, and then doing a shabby deal with the Maori Party that has no good economic or environmental consequences, has denied New Zealand ongoing certainty over climate change policy,” Charles Chauvel said.

A bad deal for Kiwis

Under the amendments proposed by National and the Maori Party, emitters:

(1) Get a much longer period of transitional subsidy to continue to pollute (last week, David Carter thought a further 90 years);

(2) Are allocated ongoing rights to pollute on a 'intensity' basis, without a cap on emissions, meaning that they are incentivised to continue to emit greenhouse gasses (the Australians at least will have a cap, so National aren't actually harmonising when it doesn't suit them);

(3) Have the dates on which they enter the scheme pushed out by up to 2 years.

(4) Thresholds for allocation are lowered so that many more businesses will receive allocations under the Scheme, and there is no commitment to recycle revenue into complementary measures.

(5) The billion dollar requirement to require a home insulation scheme that we legislated for is repealed. Meaning that scheme continues only as long as ministers want it to.

National will borrow and cut to pay polluters

According to the full Treasury chart at p33 of the explanatory note to the Bill (and not the doctored one Smith tabled on earlier this week) the numbers suggest that between now and 2013, equates to a more expensive scheme to the tune of around half a billion dollars. Between 2013 and 2017 it is calculated to cost between 67m and $1bn less (the range in those numbers tells you something). From 2020, however, it costs taxpayers over $200m more in total. By 2030, additional costs are over $2bn, and every year thereafter, $500m.

Harmonising with an Australian scheme that does not exist

The Treasury's regulatory impact assessment (p12 of the explanatory
note) advises that the amendments, as far as they allow for harmonisation with Australia, are bad policy, since Australia does not yet have a settled Scheme in law and may not manage to have one, meaning that we are essentially harmonising with something that may never exist.

What is missing in the bill

There will be a Treaty clause in the final Act, but this will not be introduced by the Maori Party till the Committee of the Whole House, meaning that the select committee (and therefore the public) will be denied an opportunity to submit on it. Other alleged or actual concessions to the Maori Party will not be included in the Bill but will be by way of variation to Government policy.


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