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MPs Debate Last Budget Urgency Bill

A bill which will dump cheque duty and duties on some building materials, as well as amend Emissions Trading Scheme rules has completed its first reading under Urgency this afternoon.

The first reading of the Budget Measures (Miscellaneous Fiscal Matters) Bill was completed by 109 to 0 with seven NZ First MPs abstaining.

Amongst other things the bill immediately suspends duties on plasterboard, reinforcing steel and nails, and tariffs on building products will be suspended from July 1. The bill also abolishes cheque duty from July 1 at a cost of $15.5 million over four years.

The bill also closes a reregistration arbitrage in the Emissions Trading Scheme, which was an unintended consequence arising from significant differences between the price of New Zealand units and the cheaper price of certain Kyoto units.

Associate Finance Minister Craig Foss said the bill would reduce the cost building materials and thus the cost of building a house by an estimated $3500 a house.

Labour’s Grant Robertson mocked the Government saying the House was sitting under urgency after the Budget to pass essential legislation and they were debating the removal of cheque duty which would save on average 35c per year per bank customer who on average write seven cheques a year at 5 cents a cheque.

Cheque Duty was as relevant to the economy today as fondue sets and lava lamps, he said.

Associate Climate Change Minister Simon Bridges said under the ETS, owners of post 1989 forest could register and deregister multiple times for the ETS. When they register they receive NZU carbon unit and then when they deregister they can surrender cheaper overseas carbon unit and gain from the difference in prices. The changes in the bill meant they would have to surrender NZUs when they deregister.

Labour’s Moana Mackey said it appeared National hated the forestry sector as the bill was not about fixing an unintended consequence as much as it was about fixing a problem caused by the Government letting a flood of cheap carbon units collapse the price of carbon.

MPs are continuing through the remaining stages this afternoon.

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