[Sitting date: 30 January 2013. Volume:687;Page:7601. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the
Prime Minister: Why didn’t he mention climate change yesterday when he outlined his Government’s priorities for the year in his statement to Parliament?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister)
: The statement to Parliament does not list everything the Government intends to do in the year, and the overall structure of the Government’s emissions trading scheme going forward was well established last year.
Dr Russel Norman: Was the reason he did not talk about climate change in his statement for the year that addressing climate change is not a priority for his Government?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, that is not the reason. The Government has some very clear top priorities, and climate change is an important issue. That is why we have an emissions trading scheme, and that is why this year we will have a binding emissions target. Well, actually, interestingly enough, let us quote what Labour’s increase in emissions was when it was in office. Oh, that is right, it was 23 percent, and under National emissions went down.
Dr Russel Norman: Was it more important to use his speech to talk about the Green Party 11 times and the Labour Party 23 times and to make a joke about putting a bell on David Cunliffe, rather than discuss the biggest threat facing the planet and how New Zealand could do its share?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, one of the biggest threats facing New Zealand could be a Labour-Greens Government. Let us get it right. The Green Party policy—correct me if I am wrong—is that it supports a target of a reduction of between 25 and 40 percent in global emissions by 2020. It would demand a huge increase in the emissions trading scheme and the cost on New Zealand families. Let us be upfront. Let us have that debate when we are on TV in those debates talking about how the Green Party is going to force New Zealand consumers to pay a truckload more money every single week, and let us
see whether New Zealand consumers like it. If they do, good luck; he will be Minister of Finance.
Dr Russel Norman: Can the Prime Minister confirm that under his Government he is proposing to put the costs on to taxpayers rather than consumers, so that taxpayers are subsidising greenhouse pollution, which is the exact opposite of what those of us who believe in using market instruments to reduce greenhouse emissions think we should do?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, I do not agree with that, and I go back to the fundamental point. If the member wants to see New Zealand with a more significantly increased target, as he does—fair enough; that is the Green Party’s policy—let us understand what that means. It means much bigger costs for New Zealand consumers and New Zealand businesses. That means fewer jobs, and that means New Zealand being less competitive, while the rest of the world is doing very little. If that is the member’s policy, fair enough. That is why he wants to be the Minister of Finance. But in the world that we live in over here, which is the real world, we do not support his view on climate change.
Dr Russel Norman: Is it his plan to subsidise polluting industries and hence lock in old investments rather than encourage new investments? Is that plan consistent with his plan as a Prime Minister to put off all the hard issues because he would rather make jokes than make tough calls?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.
Dr Russel Norman: Will he commit to accepting Pacific climate change refugees in light of comments from the President of Kiribati, who said: “Climate change is eating away [our children’s] future … For low-lying countries, such as Kiribati, which are at the frontline of climate change, the threat it poses is real and immediate.”? It is no joke, Prime Minister.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: That is right, and that is why this Government will have a firm and binding target in its long-term plan for reductions in global emissions. That is why we have an emissions trading scheme, and that is why we are investing in the greenhouse gas alliance. But I go back to the point I made earlier. The member wants New Zealand to have an emissions trading scheme and a cost on its consumers way above everywhere else in the world—fair enough. He wants New Zealand consumers to pay way more than the average American, way more than the average Australian, way more than the average Canadian, and way more, actually, than people in Europe—fair enough. But he should go into the election campaign and be honest with those New Zealand voters: vote Greens and you will pay a lot more money.