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ANZAC's "not bludgers", Smith tell farmers

UPDATED - ANZAC's "not bludgers", Smith tells farmers

by Pattrick Smellie

Nov 19 (BusinessWire) - Climate Change Minister Nick Smith evoked the spirit of the ANZACs when he spoke to Federated Farmers' national council meeting today on the vexed issue of the emissions trading scheme.

Where the previous government had sought to lead the world in tackling climate change, National was committed to the country doing "its fair share". That had to include agriculture, because it accounts for almost 50% of all New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions.

"The ANZACs weren't bludgers. Doing our fair share is in the New Zealand psyche," Smith said. He warned also that Australian farmers, while excluded from that country's ETS, would face costs through domestic regulation aimed at bringing down agricultural emissions, which account for around 16% of Australia's emissions.

There was a heavy media presence at the farming lobby's National Council meeting in Wellington, with expectations that Smith would get a rough ride from one the staunchest opponents of the ETS.

However, the reception to Smith's speech was polite, questions easily parried, and Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson appeared to give up the fight in his closing remarks.

"While we're not very happy, you are going to live with it, and we will see what you finally nail down. Good luck," Nicolson said.

Speaking immediately after Smith, Transport and Telecommunications Minister Steven Joyce said he had concluded, "as an economic minister", that the most important goal for the ETS now was to settle the policy and allow investors to make decisions. The same was true of the freshwater management policy reform process, changes to the Resource Management Act, and resolving the foreshore and seabed issue with Maori.

Smith contrasted the current and previous governments' approaches to the ETS, telling the gathering of regional farming leaders that their cost per average farm would be in the region of $3000 a year by 2030, compared with $30,000 under Labour's ETS legislation, on a like for like basis.

Smith acknowledged the scientific complexity and uncertainty surrounding climate change, but insisted international action to reduce GHG emissions was sound risk management, given the mounting evidence of the potential impact of climate change over generations to come.

"The harm from climate change won't cause us too much grief, but for our grandchildren and beyond, it will be significant."

He announced the establishment next year of a technical advisory implementation group to get to grips with the technical complexities involved in bringing agriculture into the New Zealand ETS in 2015.

(BusinessWire) 14:26:36

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