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Boscawen: France Can Abandon Its Carbon Tax

If The French Can Abandon Its Carbon Tax, Why Can’t We?
John Boscawen MP, ACT New Zealand

Speech To Parliament in the General Debate, Wednesday, 24 March 2010.

I rise this afternoon on behalf of all New Zealanders — farmers, businesspeople, employers, and families. On 1 July - just over 3 months from today - this Government will force upon the people of New Zealand an experiment — a grand, new experiment — that is unlike anything launched anywhere in the world. It is not surprising that there is so much banter and interjection in this House because all of the political parties in this House, bar the ACT Party, have been part of this huge fraud - this emissions trading scheme tax, which starts on 1 July this year.

The ACT Party is alone in opposing this tax because from 1 July we can expect an immediate increase of five percent in the price of electricity and of four cents per litre in the price of petrol. Those increases are expected to double on 1 January 2013.

The increased costs of electricity and petrol will flow through the whole economy. They will flow through the costs of food, housing, and clothing — everything. Just a fortnight ago, Governor of the Reserve Bank Alan Bollard confirmed to the Finance and Expenditure Committee that his latest estimates for inflation take into account a five percent increase in electricity and a four cents per litre increase in petrol on account of the ETS tax, as forecast by Treasury last November.

Our families will pay, our businesses will pay, and our farmers will pay. This is such tragedy because our emissions trading tax goes further than any country in the world. I repeat: we are conducting an experiment unlike any other country in the world. We will be the first country to impose an ETS on tax our farmers. That is right; our farmers have enough to compete with – facing international tariffs and trade barriers – without this Government creating another unnecessary cost.

Just last November the Prime Minister proudly told the Federated Farmers national executive that agriculture would not be coming into the emissions trading scheme tax until 2015 and we would not be taxing the methane from animals from 2015. Farmers might have felt some sense of comfort. Well, they should not. If we take the average dairy herd, we see that no less than three-quarters of the ETS tax that farmers will pay comes as a consequence of their use of electricity and petrol and the emissions of the dairy processing factories.

It is all very well for the Prime Minister to tell farmers that they will not have to pay for the cost of their animal methane until 2015, but what the Prime Minister didn’t tell farmers was that they would be paying an ETS tax on their petrol and electricity from 1 July this year and it would be much more than anything they would pay for their animals.

If there are farmers listening to this debate this afternoon they might be surprised by that fact. Of the average $10,000 cost for a dairy farmer, no less than three-quarters of what he or she will pay relates to petrol, electricity, and the cost of dairy processing emissions.

I ask why we are doing this to ourselves?

Our three major trading partners - Australia, China, and the United States - are not taxing their people or increasing the price of electricity for their citizens.

The ACT Party stands alone. It is not surprising that the House has fallen silent, because members here should be ashamed. I ask why we are conducting this experiment?

It is not too late to change.

Just 12 hours ago, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France is abandoning its intention to introduce a carbon tax in France, and that is because the French people have risen up in protest. They have realised that France would be foolish to tax its people when other countries in Europe are not.

If Nicolas Sarkozy can show leadership and abandon the French carbon tax, as he has done in the last 24 hours, I call upon the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, to show the same leadership and show the people of New Zealand that things have changed in the last five months.

This House was told time and time again last year that we would not lead the world; we would be a fast follower and our emissions trading scheme tax would be based on that in Australia.

Yet, what has happened since then? Australia hasn’t passed an ETS tax and looks unlikely to do so and neither China nor the US has any intention of introducing one either. We are now alone in our efforts to introduce an ETS and New Zealand businesses are now at a competitive disadvantage to all our major trading partners.

I believe it’s time for the Prime Minister and the National Government to stand up and acknowledge that it’s crazy to continue to force this expensive experiment upon us. France has acknowledged its mistake and has moved to rectify it - it’s time for National to follow suit.

We are fools to lead the world in implementing this new tax and ACT is calling for the Government to either scrap the ETS or delay it indefinitely. It’s not too late to change it.

I seek leave to table a study done by Meat and Wool, dated 17 February 2010, where it shows the cost of the ETS Tax for the average dairy and beef farmer will be about $10,000 per annum and part of that will commence on 1 July this year.

I seek leave to table a letter from the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce to the Prime Minister, East Coast MP Hon Anne Tolley, Minister for Climate Change Issues Hon Nick Smith, and Hon Tim Groser setting out the impact of the emissions trading scheme tax on the Gisborne region.

I seek leave to table a document from Neil and Esther Henderson, third-generation farmers in Gisborne, outlining the cost of the emissions trading scheme on their beef farm and how it will make it uneconomic.

I seek leave to table an extract from the online version of the French newspaper La Monde of yesterday’s date in which France announced its intention to abandon carbon taxes.

I seek leave to table the English translation from the Agence France-Presse outlining France’s announcement that it will be abandoning carbon taxes.


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