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Emissions Trading Scheme—Households Compensation

Tuesday 17 June 2008 Hansard source (external site)

English7. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Leader—National) Link to this
to the Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues

What compensation mechanism, if any, is the Government proposing for households affected by the Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER (Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues) Link to this

This issue has been raised by support parties and it is one that we are discussing with them.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

Does the Government intend to follow the Greens’ compensation policy for funding to make homes more energy efficient, more subsidies for public transport, and a citizens’ dividend as a flat payment to all households, or will it follow New Zealand First’s policy of having a rebate payable to superannuitants for rising power prices?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

The member will have to wait and see. Suffice it to say that efficiency and price support are both being considered.

FitzsimonsJeanette Fitzsimons Link to this

Can the Minister confirm that there is actually no conflict between what the Green Party is asking for, which is a mix of energy efficiency improvements and payments, and what New Zealand First is asking for, which is—so far as we know—some cash on the SuperGold card for superannuitants, and that both could easily be combined into a good compensation package?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

Whether or not that is true, I will not comment upon it in the House.

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. With the greatest of respect to the questioner, to get up in the House to state a party’s political position that has not been announced at this point of time is simply not parliamentary, and it is likely to lead to disorder. New Zealand First has not had a discussion with the Government yet, or concluded it. I do not think that we should have our policy depicted in a way that is totally false.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

You do that all the time.

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

The member should take a tablet.

BrownleeGerry Brownlee Link to this

I simply make the note on this point of order that that is exactly what Winston Peters does on most days.

FitzsimonsJeanette Fitzsimons Link to this

I was commenting on what the media had reported, but I am interested to hear from Mr Peters that he is not asking for a payment on the SuperGold card for superannuitants, after all.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

These are not really points of order.

DunneHon Peter Dunne Link to this

Can I ask the Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues whether the compensation package that is being considered will be one that is applied to all New Zealand households, or is to be a much more targeted regime designed to appease the interests of those parties with whom he is currently negotiating, and will ensure that most New Zealand households will not benefit from such a package?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

These issues are being discussed with support parties.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

How does the Minister believe the Government can find a compromise between the Green Party’s policy that opposes direct subsidies on electricity because that undermines the very purpose of the emissions trading scheme, and New Zealand First, which will support the bill only if there are direct subsidies on electricity prices?

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The man is talking gobbledegook, and he is putting it in a parliamentary question and trying to give it the colour of right. It is simply false.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

It is not a point of order. Members are entitled to ask whatever sorts of questions they like under the Standing Orders, which are very broad as I have noted in the past. The answers normally reflect the question.

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I find the support parties more honourable in their dealings than I do some other parties in this Parliament, and I expect that we will find a way through.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

What is the basis of the reported commitment by the Government to offer a rebate on electricity bills to every superannuitant, if it is not in discussion with New Zealand First; and can the Minister tell the House what is the cost of the commitments that the Government has made so far?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I could, but I will not.

ChauvelCharles Chauvel Link to this

What excuses has the Minister seen for opposing action on climate change?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I have seen a long list of pathetic excuses from the National Party to justify its inaction on climate change. One example is that National says in its minority report, and in press releases, that it opposes the emissions trading scheme, asserting the Government would reap $20 billion in revenue. In reality the Government is unlikely to break even until around 2020—more than a decade away. It is plain that National’s excuses will not wash with the electorate. New Zealanders know that National says one thing and does another, not just on climate change but also on superannuation, police numbers, and any number of issues.

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

Can the Minister confirm, first, that it was the National Party that signed the Kyoto Protocol; secondly, that it has argued for an emissions trading scheme, that it took that decision in 1999, that it repeated that statement in 2006—

PetersRt Hon Winston Peters Link to this

—I know that it is right as, unlike the member, I deal with the facts—can the Minister confirm that that is the National Party’s position, so why on earth is it holding out now?

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

The Minister may answer the first part but not the second.

CullenHon Dr Michael Cullen Link to this

I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have to ask the reason for the second part of your ruling, because although that confirms previous rulings, you have previously ruled today that a Minister could be asked a question about how he reconciled the political positions of two other parties, even if the description of those two positions was not accurate. It seems to me that if one can be asked to reconcile two different positions on the basis of no particular facts about those positions, one could be asked to reconcile two different positions by one party, which is the standard question about the National Party.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

Of course, the question we are asking is directly about ministerial responsibility, given the Prime Minister has said she has the numbers for the emissions trading scheme, and we are simply asking the Minister how he reconciles the directly conflicting policy goals of the two parties he is meant to be negotiating with.

WilsonMadam SPEAKER Link to this

The Minister has to respond in terms of ministerial responsibility. The Minister is not responsible for the policies of other parties.

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

Can the Minister confirm the public statement made by the Government that the proposed compensation package will be $140 million, and how much is left of the $140 million to fund the Greens’ citizens’ dividend, and subsidies for public transport and energy-efficient homes, given that, again, on the public record he has already made a commitment to New Zealand First to provide a subsidy for electricity prices to over half a million superannuitants?

EnglishHon Bill English Link to this

Can the Minister confirm that the Government is cobbling together deals consisting of bits and pieces of contradictory policies, in a desperate attempt to rescue something from 5 years of policy wreckage on climate change and that he is doing it with no regard for the practicalities of implementing the policy, because he does not believe he will be around to implement it?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

No, I cannot. I can confirm that the emissions trading legislation has come back from the Finance and Expenditure Committee—despite the best efforts of the National Party to undermine it—in very sound condition with its fundamentals preserved. Further, I confirm that deforestation emissions are down; that electricity-related emissions are down, albeit there will a blip this winter; that transport emissions, for our first time in history, are projected to level off; and that the research into agricultural emissions is bearing fruit. We are making very substantial progress, which is why the UN—on World Environment Day—chose to showcase New Zealand’s efforts in this regard, because we are amongst the best in the world.

CullenHon Dr Michael Cullen Link to this

Has the Minister seen any reports of people supporting an emissions trading scheme, but saying that an emissions trading scheme should have no cost to anybody and nobody should have to change any behaviour; if so, is he able to name those people?

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

Indeed, that seems to be the position of National Party members. They say we should use a price-based instrument to influence behaviour, without changing prices. It is impossible to do that.

SmithHon Dr Nick Smith Link to this

I seek leave of the House to table the advice to the select committee from Meridian Energy that it is expecting a windfall gain of $750 million to the Government.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

ParkerHon DAVID PARKER Link to this

I seek leave to table the estimates as to Crown revenue that show that the Crown is unlikely to break even on the emissions trading scheme until around 2020.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

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