Will he table the proposal presented to him yesterday by the Iwi Leadership Group so that it can be open to parliamentary, media, and public scrutiny?
No. My discussions with the Iwi Leadership Group and the Māori Party are confidential, in the same way that our discussions with the ACT Party and other parties in Parliament are done on a confidential basis. No agreement has been reached yet; an appropriate announcement will be made when it is.
I hear the Leader of the Opposition criticising that. I understand that that was exactly the arrangement when the Green Party came to an agreement with Labour on its amendments to the emissions trading scheme.
Why will only iwi be compensated for their losses, and not all forestry owners?
It is not the Government’s intention or the intention of the Māori Party to have specific amendments to the emissions trading scheme that would give any preferential right to Māori-owned or iwi-owned forests to anybody else. There is a very specific issue associated with Ngāi Tahu and four other iwi that were involved in a Treaty settlement; there is a question over whether the Crown made available to them, under the good-faith provisions of that agreement, all the information. That is the issue the Māori Party has put on the agenda, and this Government intends to constructively work with Ngāi Tahu to try to find a solution to that problem.
Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Is the Minister aware of any agreements between the Government and other parties involving carbon farming on Crown land?
Yes. The Department of Conservation is involved in forest management agreements with businesses that involve their planting trees on public lands and earning carbon credits. The Māori Party has raised with the Government the issue of iwi being involved in such partnerships. Given the huge role that it would play—and, actually, in one of the least-cost ways—in New Zealand’s contribution to climate change, I think it is a good thing that the Government would work with iwi to plant trees on both Māori land and public land, because I think there is potential for all to benefit.
Is the Minister prepared to tell the House what legal advice he has received regarding any additional compensation that may or may not be required?
Yes. I have taken careful advice from Crown Law and have worked closely with my colleague the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations. It is very important I make a point plain, and it is this: Treaty settlements need to be full and final, and Governments need to have the flexibility to respond to new issues like climate change without it reopening Treaty settlements, but, equally so, this Government is committed to the integrity of Treaty settlements, and if there has been misunderstanding about them, it is proper that the Government seeks to resolve those issues—and not through the courts.
Can the Minister tell the House what other amendments, besides the Treaty clause that he has already signalled, he will propose without parliamentary, public, or media scrutiny, in his shambolic attempt to scrape together enough parliamentary support to pass his $110 billion taxpayer subsidy for polluters?
I can assure the member that the number of amendments in our Supplementary Order Paper on the emissions trading scheme will be a fraction of the number of amendments that David Parker introduced to this House, which were tabled in the morning and passed that night—a fraction of that number. I also say to the member that his claims about billions of dollars is Disneyland stuff, and that the cost to New Zealanders of our modified emissions trading scheme will be less than the cost of Labour’s scheme, because we do not want to impose on New Zealanders the large power price increases that that party opposite wants to impose.
In his negotiations with the Māori Party over the emissions trading scheme amendments, has he been telling the Māori Party that the $110 billion estimate of the cost to the taxpayer in terms of increased debt of the Government by 2050 is wrong or right?
That number is a fantasyland number. Let me tell the member why. The member opposite wants to give great credence to what might occur in 2050. It is not rocket science that if, in the assumptions, one doubles the carbon price from $25 to $50, surprise, surprise, the cost goes up. I emphasise that members opposite want to impose huge costs on New Zealand households, farmers, and businesses, and the Māori Party wisely does not want to cripple New Zealand industry in our efforts to do our fair share on climate change.
Does the Minister stand by his previous railing against “pandering to Māori”, and his statement that “The Treaty and race are irrelevant.”, or do those views apply only when he is trying to pull together a shabby deal to get support for his $110 billion subsidy for polluters?
The member very selectively quotes. If the member checked the record, he would find that I was actually one of the Ministers—an Associate Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations—involved in the Ngāi Tahu settlement along with Sir Douglas Graham. I am a member who is committed long-term to a process of full and final Treaty settlements, and I am delighted that this Government is making damn sight more progress on that than members opposite ever did.