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Jones pads carbon benefit from One Billion Trees

Paul Goldsmith - Economic and Regional Development

10 December 2018

Shane Jones claims his ‘One Billion Trees’ will cut almost $3 billion from New Zealand’s carbon liability under the Paris Agreement but papers show he vastly inflated the benefit, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Officials estimate the actual value of the One Billion Trees (OBT) scheme will be just a third of the amount Mr Jones claimed, at about $900 million, and that he padded the number by including $800 million of ETS benefits and $1 billion of business-as-usual activity, papers released under the Official Information Act show.

“That didn’t stop him publicly boasting of ‘nigh on $3 billion’ of returns to the Crown from the OBT, largely from ‘the heavy lifting that our policy will deliver to meet the costs of climate change’. It turns out this is just another example of Mr Jones’ loose and woolly approach to numbers.

“Even the $900 million figure is highly speculative because it is based on Treasury modelling that assumes New Zealand will pay a $32 billion climate change liability in 2030. There is much water to go under the bridge before Kiwis would write out such a cheque.

“The use of inflated numbers would be a concern coming from any minister, but the bar should be even higher for the Minister of Regional Development given that he oversees the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund, which is dishing out soft loans and grants to favoured projects across the country.

“Mr Jones’ rubbery figures are a textbook example of why the National Opposition asks this Government so many questions. Our duty is to hold the Government to account and challenge the often flimsy excuses it gives for driving up the cost of living and wasting taxpayer money.

“The Prime Minister must find it increasingly hard to keep smiling at each new stop on the Provincial Growth Fund’s national tour. Labour must be embarrassed that its junior partner is treating the PGF as a slush fund that makes opaque commercial deals.

“New Zealanders are becoming tired of Mr Jones’ glibness when it comes to financial snafus on his watch. The Government has a track record of wasteful spending and it is galling for Kiwis to be taxed more to pay for it all, which is just driving up living costs.

“The Government inherited a strong economy with plenty of momentum but its policies won’t nurture sustainable growth that benefits all New Zealand families.”

“A National Government wouldn’t raise taxes in its first term. Our economy can grow smarter as well as bigger under National’s sensible economic plans and rigorous approach to spending.”


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