What amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme is the Government proposing in the short-term, prior to the completion of the select committee review of the Emissions Trading Scheme?
Today the Government introduced into the House a bill amending technical aspects of the timing of the emissions trading scheme relating to forestry. Without this bill, many forest owners would unknowingly find themselves in breach of the law or being adversely affected. The bill has no impact on obligations or on the effect of the emissions trading scheme on forestry. It is changing only the reporting and the submission dates in respect of units.
What submissions has the Minister received on this bill from the Māori Party, and has he taken any steps in response to these concerns?
The Māori Party has indicated a strong interest, particularly in the provisions on forestry, fishing, and farming, all of which iwi have very substantial interests in. It has also sought assurances that this bill will not adversely affect the very significant central North Island forestry settlement, and I have given that reassurance.
Has the Minister seen reports on Charles Chauvel saying on the radio this morning, in respect of talks between National and Labour, “Build a consensus so that you don’t always have politicking and political argument around the content of your emissions trading scheme.”, yet this afternoon putting out a press statement saying that the Minister was incompetent and out of his depth, and that his policy defies belief?
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is the pretty obvious point that if one of us had asked that question, which was about something that the Minister has no responsibility for, the question would have been ruled out.
The bit that I believe brought it within the scope of the Standing Orders was when she asked what reports the Minister had seen on the matter. That has long been accepted as a way to ask Ministers whether they have received any reports on a matter. I ask the Minister to be a little careful in answering the question.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is certainly how she started, but then the last leg of the question referred to a press statement from my colleague. It had nothing to do with a report, at all. It was something for which the Minister could not have responsibility.
The member asked what reports the Minister had seen on those matters. I will be interested to hear what the Minister has to say about that.
Yes, I have received reports. I did find it amusing and a tad inconsistent, but National remains committed to working with all the parties in Parliament to come up with an emissions trading scheme that carefully balances New Zealand’s economic and environmental interests.
Has the Government complied with all deadlines and requirements currently contained in the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading) Amendment Act 2008; if not, which departments or agencies have not complied, and why?
The existing law required all forest owners to report any deforestation by 31 January this year. It was drawn to my attention in February that Land Information New Zealand and the Department of Conservation were potentially in breach. I drew that to the attention of both Ministers. Both agencies immediately met and ensured that their departments complied. However, I have to say that I think there will be quite a high level of non-compliance with those procedures, with many private forest owners being in exactly the same position. That is why I commend the bill before the House for consideration.
Given that the Minister said in his media release today that the dates in the Act are “unreasonable given the Committee review and the lack of public awareness of these requirements.”, what efforts, if any, has his Government undertaken to make the public aware of the requirements of the law; if the answer is none, is that because he had mistakenly thought until now that he had the numbers to repeal the emissions trading scheme?
No. National’s policy has been quite consistent, and it is that we favour a modified emissions trading scheme. But it is also true that we have strongly supported the select committee process being chaired by Mr Peter Dunne, because I think it would be worthwhile to build broader consensus. I think it would be somewhat confusing for forest owners, at the very time that they are making submissions to a select committee to seek changes to provisions in the Act in respect of forestry, to meet some of the compliance requirements—for instance, those around exemptions for small areas. That is why I think the change in the bill is sensible.