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Cabinet members, govt MPs want ETS defered -- ACT MP

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Boscawen
John Boscawen

Wellington, May 2 NZPA - National Party backbenchers and senior government ministers want to defer the emissions trading scheme (ETS) after Australia sidelined its own scheme, ACT MP John Boscawen says.

The New Zealand scheme was scheduled to begin on July 1.

Australia this week put its ETS on hold because its government couldn't get sufficient support in Parliament to pass it.

Mr Boscawen wants New Zealand to defer its ETS. He said going ahead with the ETS would "catapult us into world leadership" and put businesses and consumers at risk.

"Several" Cabinet members were also concerned, he told TV3's The Nation over the weekend.

"Backbench lobby MPs are lobbying Cabinet Ministers, they're very concerned about the damage it's going to do to New Zealand and the damage there is to their re-election prospects."

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith had incorrectly estimated scrapping the scheme would cost $1.2 billion in compensation to foresters, Mr Boscawen said.

He believed that figure was closer to $20 million.

Dr Smith said on Thursday a "steady and consistent" approach was needed with New Zealand's ETS, which was passed by Parliament last year.

He said deferring the scheme's introduction would cause instability and uncertainty and that businesses, including foresters, had already planned substantial investments or had entered into significant contracts that would be severely disadvantaged by any change.

In an open letter to the Government, ACT leader Rodney Hide said it was imperative that New Zealand's ETS be suspended so as not to subject average New Zealanders to the extra costs involved at a time when they already faced rising costs including a probable GST increase.

"It may have been tolerable, if inadvisable, to proceed with our scheme if an Australian scheme was in prospect shortly after this year's election, but this is no longer the case. To proceed when Australia has stopped is an extraordinarily rash and foolish decision which will cost jobs and lower the incomes of New Zealanders," he said.

The Australian scheme will now start some time from 2013, if at all.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd defended the ETS deferral, blaming the opposition and the Australian Greens for blocking the scheme in the Senate.

"The government's commitment to greenhouse gas reduction targets remains unchanged ... what has changed is our pathway to get there," he said.

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