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Government's ETS stance slammed by ACT leader

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Rodney Hide
Rodney Hide

Wellington, April 29 NZPA - The Government's plan to continue with the emissions trading scheme (ETS), despite Australia having decided to put it on hold, has been labelled "rash and foolish" by ACT Party leader Rodney Hide.

Australia has put its ETS on hold because its government can't get sufficient support in Parliament to pass it, and there have been calls for New Zealand to do the same so as to stay on the same footing.

Federated Farmers and other business organisations say New Zealand will be at a competitive disadvantage unless it aligns itself with Australia.

Climate change Minister Nick Smith said 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 today, Mr 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.

Mr Hide said some in the electricity sector and others involved with carbon trading wanted the scheme to go ahead, but they had strong vested interests.

"It's the Government's role to take a national interest perspective."

He said Dr Smith's argument about taking into account property rights of foresters who have planted trees in the expectation of benefitting from carbon credits was misleading and "remarkably weak".

Mr Hide said plantings had fallen away in recent years and few foresters could claim their plans would be disrupted by a suspension of the ETS.

He said he suspected most of the recent new plantings were a result of government afforestation programmes as opposed to being motivated by the prospective ETS.

However, if compensation was sought, it should be considered in good faith, but legitimate claims were likely to be modest, he said.

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