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ACT Will Support ETS Amendment Legislation

ACT Will Support ETS Amendment Legislation

Hon Rodney Hide, ACT Leader
Monday 23 November 2009

ACT New Zealand Leader Rodney Hide has confirmed the party is prepared to make further concessions to National to assist it in taking a more considered approach to the passage of legislation amending the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

There are reports National plans to complete negotiations with the Maori Party and its Iwi Leadership Group today, make an announcement this afternoon of a new deal, draft legislation overnight and seek to make it law under urgency before the end of the week. The deal with the Maori Party would not face Select Committee scrutiny and the details of it would not be known before legislation was passed.

Mr Hide said this was not a good way to make law which would allocate costs of many tens of billions of dollars to New Zealand families and business in perpetuity.

“There is doubt even about the value of the National / Maori Party deal, with Iwi Leadership Group negotiator Willie Te Aho advising iwi leaders it would be worth $2 billion, Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon saying it would be worth $50 million every year to his tribe, but a Treasury analysis suggesting it is worth as little as a total of $25 million,” Mr Hide said.

“Surely National and the Maori Party are not going to ram through legislation under urgency when there is a difference of opinion to the magnitude of 80 times over the value of the deal – especially when ACT is offering our votes to achieve a more considered process.”

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Mr Hide said ACT agreed with the Treasury’s comments that “[t]he level and quality of analysis presented is not commensurate with the significance of the proposals, which represent major design changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme, and the Regulatory Impact Statement does not provide an adequate basis for informed decision-making."

He said these comments had been made prior to Treasury having information about the proposed National / Maori Party forestry deal, with all its uncertainties about valuation.

“After consideration over the weekend, we are now prepared to offer new concessions to achieve a more sensible process,” Mr Hide said.

“ACT has always told National we would help it pass legislation which would meet its requirement to delay the entry of stationary energy and industrial processes into the ETS from the 1 January 2010 start date under Labour’s scheme. The sticking point has been that ACT has wanted a delay until 1 January 2011 while National prefers 1 July 2010. We are prepared to concede on that point entirely to achieve a more considered approach to the legislation.

There is absolutely no need to get the full legislation through this week before the Copenhagen conference. A delay would also allow Maori to fully consider the government’s proposal and determine what it is actually worth.

Nick Smith’s other argument is that speed is necessary to allow tree planting to occur in the winter of 2010 is also without merit, because for such tree planting to occur next year seed would already have needed to have been collected by nurseries, and that has not happened.”

Mr Hide also said that while ACT would have preferred the pre-1990 forest issue to have been dealt with prior to Christmas, the party had now decided not to make this a condition of supporting legislation to amend the entry dates.

“We are also prepared to consider any other concessions requested by National if it commits itself to not ramming through its flawed scheme under urgency this week.”

Mr Hide said that while ACT was strongly supportive of foreign investment and the private sector, it also had concerns about proposals to allow private companies, foreign or domestic, to establish carbon farms on the conservation estate.

“If a company, foreign or domestic, earns carbon credits from planting trees on the DoC estate, but then sells those credits offshore, it does nothing to improve New Zealand’s fiscal position under the Kyoto protocol. It is as if the trees had never been planted.

“If National wants more trees on the DoC estate, it makes most sense for DoC to plant them itself – then the Government will own the carbon credits which would reduce its Kyoto liability to the benefit of all taxpayers.”

Mr Hide said a more considered process would enable analysts to get to the bottom of Labour and Treasury claims that the proposed changes to the ETS would cost taxpayers $110 billion.

ENDS

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