[Sitting date: 21 June 2012. Volume:681;Page:3225. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the
Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does he agree with the statement made by the Minister for the Environment, Hon Amy Adams in Rio, that, “Money spent on fossil fuels is money that could be spent on other sustainable development priorities”, and will the Government re-allocate the $889 million for ETS credits in Budget 2012 towards sustainable projects and a green economy?
Hon TIM GROSER (Minister for Climate Change Issues)
: I certainly do agree with Minister Adams’ statement at Rio, and that is the reason why we set up, in June 2010, a group of countries to try to press long term for fossil fuel subsidy reform. As it stands, that group includes Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, us, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Mr SPEAKER: This is a primary question, so the Minister should really answer the bit that asks “will the Government re-allocate the $889 million …”. I mean, this is a primary question.
Hon TIM GROSER: Speaking to the Speaker’s point, I considered that there were two separate questions, and I answered the first part of the question. But if the Speaker would like it, I can very easily answer two questions at once.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am on my feet. Primary questions must be answered in full. If it is deemed that the question is in order, it must be answered in full. In respect of supplementary questions, there can only be one question asked, and if there is more than one part to a question, the Minister is welcome to answer just one part. But a primary question must be answered in full.
Hon TIM GROSER: Thank you for the clarification. No, we will not be reallocating the allocations we have given to trade-exposed industries, for the very simple reason that were we to do so when those trade-exposed industries are facing competition internationally from similar industries that do not face a price on carbon, it would create such a huge increase in unemployment—and I am sure that the member would be at the forefront of any queue to complain about the unemployment were we so reckless as to follow the advice.
Gareth Hughes: Does the Minister stand by his statement made in 2010 that it would be incoherent to have a market price on carbon and to be subsidising it; how, then, does the Minister stand by the Government’s spending of $25 million subsidising the acquisition of petroleum exploration data to give to the petroleum industry, and given that this Government in the next financial year has allocated $1.5 billion of free emissions trading scheme credits to polluters?
Hon TIM GROSER: Yes, I certainly do stand by that statement. It is time people stopped throwing around these loosely worded concepts of subsidies and started to reference them to the international jurisprudence that defines us. Although I would love to elaborate in detail on the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures code and the issues of specificity, actionability, and serious prejudice, were I to so elaborate I think my friend and colleague the Leader of the House would have convulsions—and we do not want that.
Louise Upston: Is the Minister aware of any other country with a fully comprehensive “all-gases, all-sectors” emissions trading scheme?
Hon TIM GROSER: No, and I would like to elaborate on that. Even the EU emissions trading scheme exempts nearly 60 percent of EU27 GDP from the scheme.
Gareth Hughes: Can the Minister confirm that the New Zealand taxpayer is giving the oil industry in New Zealand $25 million of seismic survey data for free, and the taxpayer in the next financial year is paying $1.5 billion in emissions trading scheme credits?
Hon TIM GROSER: As far as I recall, it is a statement of fact that the Government is providing $25 million to assist in seismic exploration. But we are doing this so that we can stimulate an industry that, from memory, produces something like an $800 million return to the taxpayer, and it is a policy that I strongly support.
Gareth Hughes: Does he think the Government’s agenda of increasing petroleum exploration, giving hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to carbon polluters, and supporting the massive lignite coal developments in Southland is putting the interests of the next generation ahead of all other interests, and boldly doing the right thing, as 17-year-old New Zealander Brittany Trilford has asked all world leaders to do in Rio?
Hon TIM GROSER: No.