What changes, if any, are being considered to the Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill to gain the support of other parties in the Parliament?
The bill has been reported back to the House in very good shape, and talks with other parties are continuing.
Why did the Minister tell Parliament yesterday that the Government was discussing the emissions trading scheme’s effect on households with support parties, when the Minister of Revenue, Peter Dunne, subsequently said in a press release: “As a confidence and supply partner of Labour, United Future is disappointed the Government has failed to talk to us about this important issue”?
Because, as I said yesterday, we are having conversations with support parties on these very issues.
Will the Minister confirm that I raised on 11 December 2007 the issue of compensation to households for the impact of the emissions trading regime, and that since that date neither his office nor his representatives have initiated discussions with United Future on that point?
Regarding the issue as to compensation and efficiency, I would say that good ideas like that have many parents.
Did the Minister, or did he not, have discussions with United Future about affordability issues for households, as he told Parliament yesterday?
I did not specifically mention Mr Dunne yesterday. In respect of the issues that need to be addressed in the House, I say the list is far shorter than it would have otherwise been, because support parties have achieved much of what they wanted to achieve in the legislation. For example, coal-seam methane is now included because of the Greens, and the prospect of offset planting being allowed in respect of deforestation is in there, which was very important for New Zealand First.
Does the Minister agree with the Green Party’s minority report that the bill as reported back from the select committee has “major flaws”; if so, is he prepared to make the considerable changes to the bill advocated in the Green Party’s minority report?
I do not agree with everything the Greens say in respect of the bill, and I do not think they realistically expect I would. I think in terms of positioning it is true that whatever we do, the Greens will say it is not enough. None the less, I believe that the bill is in good shape and the fundamentals of it are sound.
Has the Minister read the report from the select committee, and in particular the minority report from the National Party; and does he have any idea now what those proposals might be in respect of an emissions trading scheme that the National Party says it supports—does he have any idea now what the policy contains as an alternative?
My opinion is the same as that of a business commentator I heard on the radio yesterday, who said that, in respect of the six so-called principles that National had previously articulated, four of them are actually dealt with in the report back and the other two did not seem insurmountable, other than the call for delay. That seems to be the only policy that National has here—one of delay. There is no principle behind it.
Does the Minister agree with the Māori Party that the bill is “fundamentally flawed”, “delivers little for the environment”, “rips off taxpayers”, and will “[hit] poor families hardest”?
I am aware that some parties think we have the balance wrong in terms of sharing the burden of costs between taxpayer and emitters, and although I disagree with their conclusion I can see why they could argue that proposition. I remain, though, absolutely clear that in terms of the efficacy of the scheme, the fundamentals are right. It includes all sectors and all gases, and creates a marginal price signal that encourages a reduction in emissions.
How can the Minister expect New Zealand First to support this legislation, when the party stated in its 2005 policy “We should not be proceeding faster than our”—
I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister has no responsibility for the enlightened policies of New Zealand First—that is the first thing. Second, the Minister has no responsibility to answer a question that is being put by Nick Smith as to New Zealand First’s policy. That is outside the Standing Orders.
Dr Smith was very cautious about the way in which he asked his question. He has actually taken his lead in formulating this question from your response to Winston Peters’ points of order yesterday about these very issues. He was simply asking the Minister responsible for a bill how he is going to surmount some of the clearly stated and publicly proposed positions from New Zealand First in order to get support for this bill.
Yes, it is quite clear that Ministers are not responsible for parties’ policies; that is quite clear in the House. In terms of the way in which the question is framed, I am sure the Minister will ensure that his answer is within ministerial responsibility. I call the Hon David Parker.
I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I was interrupted by Winston Peters in the middle of my question.
I am sorry. Your question was going on? I thought you had completed it. Please continue. [ Interruption]
I am sure the House will enjoy it. How can the Minister expect New Zealand First to support this legislation when that party’s policy in 2005 stated: “We should not be proceeding faster than our major trading partners.” and “This Government keeps rushing on Kyoto when caution is called for.”, and when the key plank of its environment policy was “an extra 10 million trees per year will be planted”, yet the bill’s forestry provisions have contributed to the loss of 10 million trees over the past 3 years and the bill creates perverse incentives to get rid of and clear young trees?
I would not purport to reply for other parties, but I would observe that things have moved on in the last 3 years, including an emissions trading scheme being in place throughout the whole of Europe and also Scandinavia, an emissions trading scheme being proposed in Australia, an emissions trading scheme being proposed in various states in the United States including California, and the United States’ agreement to a comparable effort with that of other developed countries under a UN instrument after 2012. In respect of the forestry point, perhaps the parties that are making these assessments are aware of the Government’s ambition to increase forestry by 250,000 hectares by 2020.