Does he stand by his reported comments that he cannot put a figure on the cost to taxpayers for his proposed deal with the Māori Party to secure support for the ETS?
Yes, and for two reasons. The first is that one cannot put a figure on a deal that is not yet finalised. The second is that there are matters such as the agreement to halve the power price and petrol price increase that would come from the previous Labour Government’s emissions trading scheme, and that does cost the Government $400 million, but as the National Government and the Māori Party have made that agreement, how is it possible to assign it to one party or the other?
What is the total cost of any liabilities to the Crown that could result from the legal proceedings that the Minister is trying to avoid by the exercise of his “political judgment” in reaching a deal with the Māori Party?
I have received advice from Crown Law, but, as members opposite would know, when one is seeking to resolve such issues where there is the potential for legal action, Ministers need to be cautious about sharing that advice. I assure the member opposite that I am acting in the best interests of the taxpayers in seeking to resolve this issue.
If the Minister cannot put a figure on the costs of the deal that is being proposed, does he have any idea whether either of the two following figures are correct: $130 million, which is what Ngāi Tahu says, or $2 billion, which is what the New Zealand Kyoto Forestry Association says?
I heard Mr Dickie make the claim that 30,000 hectares of Department of Conservation land for afforestation and carbon credits would be worth $2 billion. I invite him to come to my office, because I would love to put a Cabinet paper up so we could earn $2 billion from just 30,000 hectares. I can advise the member that the Department of Conservation has entered into agreements for carbon farming that are a very small fraction of what Mr Dickie claims, and that is why the member is again guilty of gross exaggeration in his numbers.
If Ngāi Tahu, the New Zealand Kyoto Forestry Association, Dr Christina Hood, the Sustainability Council, and Treasury are all wrong about the cost of his deal for the changes to the emissions trading scheme, just where is the Government getting its advice about emissions trading scheme costs from?
Let me make the point very plain. In 2030 Labour’s scheme would cost farmers $30,000 per year, in terms of advice—
On this occasion the member asked a fairly clear question. He asked the Minister where he was receiving his advice from, not details about the scheme itself. As I heard the question, it pointed out that certain people did not seem to be people the Government was accepting advice from, and it asked who the Government was accepting advice from.
We are receiving advice from Government officials. Let me share some of that advice.
It and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry say that the existing scheme will cost farmers $30,000 per year in 2030. The amended scheme will cost farmers $3,000 per year. As a consequence of our changes it will cost a whole lot less. The last point I will make is that it is no surprise at all that in the advice we received, if the assumed carbon price is doubled, then—surprise, surprise—the value of the assessment is doubled into the future.
Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Tēnā tātou. Has the Minister any advice on the cost to the taxpayer from the Labour Government’s deals to secure support for its emissions trading scheme?
Yes, it cost the taxpayer $1 billion to secure the changes sought by the Green Party. I am advised it cost $2.5. billion to secure the support of New Zealand First. However, these costings do depend on the assumed price of carbon, and if I use the same approach that Mr Chauvel uses and add compound interest, the cost comes to $8 billion for the agreement of the Greens and New Zealand First.
Would the Iwi Leadership Group’s afforestation proposal, which he is considering, fully compensate iwi for the $1.9 billion in land value they have lost as a result of the inclusion of pre-1990 forests in the emissions trading scheme?
Iwi who own pre-1990 forests are affected in the same way as other pre-1990 forest owners are affected by the scheme. The Government’s policy is that after full and final settlements we need the flexibility to be able to deal with modern issues. The area on which we are working with Ngāi Tahu is a specific issue about the integrity of its Treaty settlement.
If the credits earned under the Iwi Leadership Group’s afforestation proposal are sold offshore, what would be the impact on the Crown balance sheet of the afforestation proposal?
Whether it be iwi who plant trees or whether it be other New Zealanders—and I stress that the Department of Conservation has entered into agreement with other parties to farm carbon credits—my question to the ACT Party asks why it is OK for overseas companies to plant trees in New Zealand and gain carbon credits but it is not OK for iwi. That to me seems illogical.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, one cannot answer a question with a question. The question was, precisely, what the impact on the Crown balance sheet would be—which was not addressed in any way, shape, or form.