Hon PETE HODGSON (Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change)
: I move,
That the Resource Management (Energy and Climate Change) Amendment Bill be now read a first time. The policy papers that led to this bill were signed both by me
as Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change and by the Minister for the Environment. That partnership has been very important in the development of the bill.
The bill supports the Government’s climate change and energy policy through amendments to the Resource Management Act. It recognises the Government’s preference for national coordination of controls on greenhouse gas emissions, and it gives greater emphasis to climate change in Resource Management Act planning and decision making on energy matters. The bill introduces an explicit requirement for those exercising functions and powers under the Resource Management Act to have particular regard to a series of new matters. They include energy efficiency, the effects of climate change, and the benefits to be derived from the use and development of renewable energy. Accordingly, clause 5 amends the Resource Management Act by inserting the new matters into section 7 of the Act. Whilst some councils are already incorporating such matters in their planning documents and consent decisions, that practice is not consistent across the country.
The bill provides national direction by ensuring that efficient use of energy, the benefits of renewable energy, and the effects of climate change are flagged for the attention of those working with the Resource Management Act. For example, it requires local authorities considering proposed wind-farming projects to have particular regard to the benefits of lower greenhouse gas emissions offered by such an energy source. That does not confer automatic approval on renewable energy proposals, but it requires anyone exercising functions and powers under the Resource Management Act to take those matters into consideration.
With regard to climate change, the bill requires local authorities to consider and plan for associated effects such as changes in typical rainfall patterns, sea-level rises, increased risk of flooding, and coastal erosion. The amendment is consistent with the Resource Management Act principle that local government is usually best placed to make decisions on local matters. However, the bill also reflects the fact that some discharges of greenhouse gases are best dealt with using national mechanisms, rather than localised Resource Management Act decisions. Clauses 6 and 7 insert new sections that specifically provide that when making rules and considering consent applications relating to the discharge of greenhouse gases from industrial or trade premises, a regional council must not have regard to the effects of those discharges on climate change. Those amendments do not indicate a lack of Government concern about greenhouse gas emissions. On the contrary, we propose them because greenhouse gas emissions are so important that they should be managed through national mechanisms—namely, those in our climate-change policies.
There are two exceptions to those exclusion provisions. First, we want regional councils to be able to consider greenhouse gas emissions when implementing national environmental standards that address those matters. A national environmental standard is a potential national mechanism established by regulation under the Resource Management Act. While it is set nationally, it is administered locally by regional councils. Accordingly, the bill provides for regional councils to make rules and consider consent applications addressing those matters, but only to implement a national and environmental standard, and only to an extent that is not more or less restrictive than the standard allows.
The second exception provides that a regional council may have regard to the effects on climate change of an activity involving the use and development of renewable energy, to the extent that it reduces discharges of greenhouse gases. That supports the policies within the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, and the amendments to section 7 of the Resource Management Act, which I identified earlier.
The last two clauses of the bill provide transitional provisions. Clause 8 requires that any resource consent application, designation notice, or application to change a consent condition, filed prior to the commencement of the bill, shall be completed to the end of any appeals under the Resource Management Act as if the bill had not been enacted. This provision allows all parties to complete the process under the same rules as they started, and accords with natural justice considerations. This is particularly important under the Resource Management Act, which has significant provisions for public participation throughout these processes. Clause 9 revokes any existing rule in a regional plan that relates solely to the control of the effects on climate change of greenhouse gas emissions from any industrial or trade premises. This is necessary to give proper effect to the provisions within the bill.
Collectively these changes to the Resource Management Act will support existing Government policy on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate change. They will provide national leadership, clearer responsibilities, and reduced administration, compliance, and participation costs in respect of energy and climate-change matters. At the appropriate time, I will move that the bill be referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee, and that the committee report the bill finally to the House by Tuesday, 25 November 2003. I commend the bill to the House.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson)
: If there is any Act of Parliament that is in need of reform, it is the Resource Management Act. The National Party will support any legislative vehicle that will give us the opportunity to make sensible changes to that Act, so we will support this bill to a select committee.
If we believe that this bill will deal with any of the logjam that exists in resource management, and deal with any of the energy, roading, or other issues, we are sadly mistaken. This is a Clayton’s bill. We have 240 detailed process provisions, and the Minister wants only to tinker with a few of the provisions in section 7, otherwise known as the other matters.
I want to outline why National believes this is a very poor shot at significant reform of the Resource Management Act. I also want to challenge the Government on its confused policies around climate change. Let us first turn to the sorts of pathetic changes—
Darren Hughes: What does your lawyer think about it?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I know that member is such a pathetic constituency member that he is happy to stand up in this House and see me charged with contempt of court for doing my job. I say to the member opposite, and others—
Clayton Cosgrove: You know the rules.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: That is interesting; Clayton Cosgrove says that I know the rules. Will he support special legislation to save Harry Duynhoven’s neck?
Clayton Cosgrove: You knew the rules, mate.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Well, why does that not apply to Harry Duynhoven, I ask the member? [Interruption] The member is interjecting. I want to challenge him and say that if he is standing on a point of principle, and challenging me today for standing by a family in my electorate so they can have custody of their child, but is prepared to pass special legislation to save Harry Duynhoven’s neck, I want to know why. [Interruption] I know members opposite will use every possible dirty trick to try to stop debate in this House, and will even go to the length of the top law enforcement officer trying to kick me out of Parliament for expressing a view. I will stand up and say what I think, and say that this bill is not good enough. [Interruption] I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Do I have to put up with those sorts of interjections from Clayton Cosgrove, David Parker, and Pete Hodgson in trying to make a sensible contribution on this bill?
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I just say to the member that I have let this go. It is the first sitting day of the week. I just ask members to be relevant. An irrelevant interjection does not justify a member in dealing with that interjection.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I have made a ruling, Mr Shirley.
Hon Ken Shirley: I seek a point of clarification on that ruling, Mr Assistant Speaker. You said it is Tuesday. Am I to understand from that that there is one set of rules for Tuesday and another set of rules for Thursday? If there are, the Opposition parties would like to know.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): No, I tell Mr Shirley that he is not to understand that. I have recognised that there has been a bit of toing and froing during this debate. This is a robust place, and I expect that.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I raise a point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker. During the course of Pete Hodgson’s first reading speech there was not one interjection from members on this side of the House. We heard him in silence, and for you to suggest that we were continuously interjecting on this bill is not correct.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): No, I was not suggesting that Opposition members were interjecting. The interjections came from the Government side. I have pulled them up several times. One member who changed his seat has now gone back to where he was sitting. I want to get on with the debate. Members should take note that we need to continue this debate and be relevant to the bill that is before the House.
Lindsay Tisch: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. During the last debate we had a barrage of interjections that were not rare and reasonable. I want an assurance that during this debate you will uphold Speaker’s ruling 51/5, which states that interjections in debate are out of order unless they are rare and reasonable. I want an assurance from you that Government members will give our speakers a fair go. The nonsense that went on in the last debate was quite outrageous.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I thank the honourable member, and also refer him to Speaker’s ruling 51/4, which states that, strictly speaking, members can be heard without interruption, but members may ask reasonable questions to elicit further information. I expect that is how this debate will be conducted.
Shane Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I have ruled on this, I tell Mr Ardern.
Shane Ardern: It is not to do with the point you have ruled on.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): It had better not be.
Shane Ardern: It is a further point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker. This whole process started because of interjection from the Government benches. I want an assurance that this time will not be taken off Mr Smith’s time, because he knows a lot about the subject of this debate.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): No, the time has not been taken off, and that is a decision of the Speaker.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: This bill that attempts to make changes to the Resource Management Act is both confused and a Clayton’s provision. I draw the member’s attention to the submissions that were received by major players in the energy sector. This is a year in which we have had an energy crisis, there have been substantive effects on the gross domestic product, and every New Zealander has been asked to save power.
Parliament should be focused on the sorts of provisions that will remove the roadblocks to sensible energy developments. This bill from the Government will do
nothing of that sort. The detailed objection provisions, the provisions by which this Government will give legal aid to those who want to block development, and the provisions that allow anybody to object to anything anywhere are not being constrained. We are not seeing any provisions that would amend the provisions of the Resource Management Act that have players in the energy sector saying it will take 7 or 8 years for people to get resource consent for a major development.
I was expecting from this Minister of Energy, who has been so grossly embarrassed by the energy crisis this year, some sensible reforms to the Resource Management Act. [Interruption] Jill Pettis says that he has not been embarrassed. I would like that member to explain why New Zealanders were asked to make such huge power savings this year. Not for just 1 year, but for two periods during the term that he has been Minister, we have had major energy crises. At the core of that debate is a need for new generation and for more sensible laws, with regard to resource management, that will allow for the consents of those important developments. I see confusion in these provisions about resource management law.
I would like to know where the Minister for the Environment is. I would like to know, for instance, why energy but not roading is in clause 7. I know that most New Zealanders think there is a roading crisis. Anybody who goes around Auckland knows that, by good economic estimate, there is nearly $1 billion per year of economic costs because of delays in building roads. Why is it that building renewable energy plants will be a matter of national importance, but dealing with transport issues will not?
The transport issues go to the core of the Resource Management Act. We on this side of the House know that there are dozens of roading projects that are held up for up to 7 years because of the Resource Management Act. Why is it that putting up windmills will be given preferential status, but building an additional railway, port, or roads will not? That makes absolutely no logical sense at all. What we have is piecemeal legislation that makes no attempt at all to deal with the substantive policy issues that are of concern with regard to the Resource Management Act.
Then we come to the climate change issues. If ever I saw a muddle, it is with regard to climate change. Let us look at what the Minister is saying with regard to this bill. If there is a negative climate change effect from a new power station, that is not to be dealt with under the Resource Management Act, but a positive climate change effect is to be dealt with under the Resource Management Act if it is an energy project. If someone applied for resource consent for planting a large area in forestry, that would have a positive climate change effect. Can that be taken into account under the provisions of this bill? No, it cannot. Can the Minister explain to the House why she is going to exclude the positive effect of planting a forest? We know that by planting a forest we absorb substantial amounts of carbon. Why is that not to be taken into account, yet building a windmill is? Can anybody explain that sort of rationale? I say that it cannot be explained.
Then there is this Government’s flatulence tax. The Government is saying that if a farmer has a cow or sheep that emits, the Government will put a special tax on that, but if a giant power station wants to emit huge amounts of carbon with a new coal plant, that is not to be taken into account under the Resource Management Act. Anybody with a small amount of knowledge of climate change would know that the impacts of new coal, gas, and oil generating stations will have a huge effect on this country’s greenhouse gas emissions. They will not be taken into account, but the poor old cocky will have to pay the flatulence tax. I would love a member opposite to explain that sort of logic to the House, because it is truly remarkable.
What we need is a consistent climate change policy that deals right across the board with all the issues, rather than in a piecemeal way that counts a positive here and does
not count a negative there, and that has different rules for farmers and for electricity generating stations. We need a consistent approach, and that is not provided for in this legislation.
I also express some concern about the fact that every council in the country will be asked, under the provisions of this bill, to take into account climate change effects. Well! That is like putting the treaty into legislation. Scientists honestly do not know. In fact, it is quite disturbing that the scientific panel from the United Nations dealing with climate change talks about scenarios, but the Government talks about projections. The granddaddy of them all is the Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change saying to the people of New Zealand: “The Government has a responsibility to provide a stable climate.” Anybody with a half a brain knows that the climate over the last 1,000 years has been continuously changing and will continue to change. It will change well into the next 100 and 200 years, and the provisions in this bill are illogical. We will support the bill to the select committee, but we will have to make very substantive changes to make any sense of it.
BERNIE OGILVY (United Future)
: I rise on behalf of United Future to support the Resource Management (Energy and Climate Change) Amendment Bill. The first objective of this bill is to give greater weight to the value of renewable energy and clarify that energy efficiencies should be considered, regardless of the energy source. That is primarily achieved in clause 5. Although these measures effectively skew the electricity market in favour of renewables—something akin to picking winners—United Future is comfortable with that because of the natural compatibility between hydroelectricity generation and wind generation. In fact, we will be urging the select committee to investigate whether the bill goes far enough towards removing the obstacles to renewables. However, that does not mean that we are blind to the drawbacks inherent in renewable energy sources.
One of the major problems with wind generation overseas has been its inherent unreliability. For example, if the wind drops suddenly then another generator—usually a coal or gas-fired thermal plant—has to be ready to take over the load straight away. In countries where the bulk electricity generation capacity is provided by thermal plants, that stand-by capacity requires a technique called “spinning”, which is, basically, keeping the necessary thermal plants constantly fired up and ready to go, thereby using up thermal fuels anyway. That is quite inefficient.
In New Zealand, that stand-by capacity can be provided by hydro dams rather than by thermal plants. That means that when the wind is blowing, the dams can conserve their water, but when the wind drops they are capable of taking up the slack quickly. In normal years, such a regime could mean that a large proportion of New Zealand’s electricity needs could be supplied from relatively non-polluting renewable sources—assuming, of course, that we do not take into account the huge amount of land area required for wind farms. However, we must remember that that does not solve the shortages faced during dry years, such as this year and 2001. Because of the short-term inconsistency of most renewables, such as wind power, New Zealand still needs to have enough thermal generation available to take over from hydro generation when the storage lakes are low.
I note also that the second objective of this legislation, as stated in the bill, is to give greater weight to considering the effects of climate change, such as addressing potential increases in flood risk, a rise in average sea levels, and changes in typical rainfall patterns. We believe that clause 3 goes a long way towards achieving that by requiring local authorities to plan for the potential effects of climate change. That is all very well and very good and, on the face of it, can be seen as a strategy for dealing with the potential effects of climate change. However, during the select committee process we
will be seeking to ensure that the legislation does not have the unintended consequence of putting a stop to all new development, especially in coastal areas.
I also note that the third objective of this bill is to remove climate change as a consideration for local authorities when they are considering industrial discharges of greenhouse gases, as those emissions are best addressed using a national mechanism. That is also something that we support. Although we believe ratification of the Kyoto Protocol ahead of our major trading partners was a big mistake for both the Government and the country as a whole, we still agree that, now that it has been ratified, it should at least be administered consistently on a nationwide basis. The impact on the economy of the emergence of a range of differing ad hoc regional policies would be even greater than that with which we are already faced.
JIM PETERS (NZ First)
: Earlier this year we had before the House the Resource Management Amendment Bill (No 2), and at that time it was the contention of New Zealand First that the bill needed more time and thought, and that the real issues that confront much of the development in our country were not addressed in it. In response, we were told that they would be addressed in the form of this bill, in the various changes that were to come. If that is so, then this legislation is a very, very poor attempt, indeed. It is a pitiful attempt, with unfinished business.
Those of us interested in marine matters—in fishing, the oceans policy, and aquaculture reform—will have seen already a high state of unpreparedness and an unthinking response from the Government with regard to those matters. At this stage, there is a real mess out there in local government in respect of aquaculture reform. The Marine Reserves Bill is being held up for half a year—thankfully—but that reflects, if one likes, the mishmash of Government developmental thinking at the present time. That same lack of real clarity is seen in this bill before us now.
New Zealand First also believes, as others have stated, that the Kyoto Protocol was one on which we should have moved in concert with our trading neighbours and major competitors. To have moved earlier was and is a long-term mistake. I say again that this bill is unfinished business. In local government, when one is doing plans one is asked to do a section 32. In this bill we have a pitiful type of section 32. The benefits and costs are mulled over, and are very lightly discussed, but there is nothing here to convey to any council, or to any would-be applicant, what the legislation actually means. It is a long-winded, discursive discussion about benefits and costs, without any clarity at all. It is all here, and it shows, really, what I have already contended—that this is very much unfinished business.
It should not be, because the Government in 2001, through the Ministry for the Environment, had the document
Kyoto Protocol: Ensuring our Future
drawn up. Last year, in October, the Government, at the end of its own work, had a preferred policy package, yet, almost 9 months later, we have come along to look at a major issue in the mind of the Government for which there is no certainty at all about national guidelines or about the regional objectives stated in the foreword and preamble. At the end of the day, if this bill ever became law, one would have to go back to a case by case assessment as is done under the present Resource Management Act. Therefore, one must ask whether this bill removes the uncertainty about greenhouse gas emissions, and gives any clarity to those who—unfortunately—may have to administer it in the future. The answer is a very, very clear “No”; it is really not of that shape at all.
Although the Government’s paper in October last year stated that climate change is an international issue, and, therefore, a national issue, this bill does not reflect that concept at all. It does not even get close to that. The bill shows no evidence that the Government has a coordinated or integrated national policy at all, despite what the Minister said. The proof is this: if this House in a fit of legislative urgency passed this
bill tonight, would it be able to be implemented tomorrow? The answer is a clear “No”. This bill is unfinished business; it requires so much more, yet we are being asked, in all good conscience, to pass it on to the Local Government and Environment Committee for further thought. On behalf of New Zealand First I am very pleased to say that we will not be voting for this bill’s first reading. The bill needs to give certainty to those people who will have to administer it.
If I look very closely at the bill, and go to clause 3 for an indication of what I am saying, I find that paragraph (b)(i) states: “to plan for the potential effects of climate change;”, but the clause does not state that the impact of discharge is to be considered. What a mixed message that sends to those councils that have to administer it, and what an uncertain impact that will have when it finally gets out in some legislative way in the future, if the Government has its way.
Secondly, section 7 of the principal Act, which is already long enough, will have two long extra bits inserted at the end, making it more lengthy, yet the body of this bill does not give any direction at the present time to anybody who will have to administer the bill. Again, I wonder why a distinction is made between climate change in the future, and the real impact, which the Government already knows about, with regard to discharge from industrial areas at the present time. Whether that is a matter of a cost factor or whatever else, I am not quite sure, but that issue is there.
The Minister stated in his opening speech, with some confidence, that this bill is a bill that can be implemented. Our contention—and I do not wish to take the House any further—is that this bill is unfinished business, that it is reflective of the whole nature, by the way, of where the Government is on climate change, and that it does not deserve to go beyond the first reading. It will not have our support, and we will vigorously pursue the issues that I have raised: first, what the nature of climate change really is; secondly, what the impact will be on the applicant; and, thirdly, and most important of all, whether we will have yet more slight meanderings through a potential Resource Management Act without the Government having the conscience to put together a real Resource Management Act that gives certainty and speed to the applicant, and that requires the minimum amount of compliance from the applicant, so that we can really get on with developing the resources of this country. That should be the aim of the Resource Management Act. These little bits of tinkering are not the substance of sound economic development or of sound law. We will resist them to the hilt.
MARK PECK (NZ Labour—Invercargill)
: Let me first of all remind the House that this bill essentially does five things: firstly, it supports the Government’s well-established climate change and energy policies; secondly, it provides a basis for national coordination of controls on greenhouse gas emissions; thirdly, it ensures the efficient use of energy; fourthly, the benefits of renewable energy and the effects of climate change are flagged for the attention of those working with the Resource Management Act; and, finally, it provides national leadership, clarity of roles, and reduced administration, compliance, and participation costs related to energy and climate change matters.
In looking at this bill, there are two matters I wish to address very quickly today. The first is the issue of the debate about climate change and the greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. I want to pass a challenge to the member for Nelson—he should remember that he is actually the member for the Labour seat of Nelson—which is that we take it rather seriously on this side of the House when farmers start resorting to sending cow manure through the mail. Indeed, when my office received a packet of cow manure, my staff took it straight to the police. The police were very interested about where it had come from. I say to the wit who sent me a packet of cow manure, and who did not have the fortitude to put his return address on the back of it, that, far from our
being frightened of going to the farmers meetings, we would encourage farmers to take the hard approach of entering into some real debate.
There is debate about those issues. I tell members that there will be debates in Southland this week. How do I know that? Because they have been arranged by the National Party, and by Federated Farmers in conjunction with it. How do I know that? Because the media gave me the list of where the meetings will be held. I can tell those who will be in Winton on Thursday afternoon that they will be meeting when the House is sitting. Had they had the courage to organise a meeting for a time when I was able to attend, I would have been there to debate the policy with them. I say to the member from the Labour seat of Nelson, who preceded me in this debate, that far from members on this side of the House not wanting to enter into the debate, we are quite keen to do so because there are some issues in it.
I also say that the farmersnever let the facts get in the way of a good story on this matter. What is the first thing I know about it? I know that anything that will happen with these emissions will not kick in until 2012. That is the first thing. Is the Minister of Energy nodding his head?
Hon Pete Hodgson: 2008.
MARK PECK: OK, I am 4 years too far out.
The second thing I know is that there is a principle called “polluter pays”, and if we were to adopt that principle, then the farmers would pay the total cost.
Jill Pettis: $60,000 per farmer.
MARK PECK: That cost would be $60,000 per farmer. I will say one other thing, which is something that my colleague Damien O’Connor likes to say from time to time. Here they are, all upset about paying 65c per cattle beast and 9c per sheep, yet when the dairy price dropped from $5.30 to $3.30 they hardly raised a sweat. I just wonder where they are taking the debate. For the price of a few envelopes they send me a packet of cow dung, yet they are not prepared to enter into the debate. They never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
I do not know much about animal husbandry, but I know that the Minister of Energy does, and I imagine that when an animal is not producing waste, it is using its energy to produce stuff like muscle and fibre. In time, there could well be a pay-off to farmers from the research that will go on as a result of this particular levy, but we do not know, because that is what the research is actually about.
Farmers are part of the New Zealand community, as well, and they should front up to their obligation, as part of the climate control situation. There is a final factor that they need to think on, and it goes like this: if ever there was an industry that was reliant on the climate, it is farming. The last thing I want to see in Southland is bananas growing. I want to see our dairy industry going really well, and our sheep industry going very well indeed, and that is all about climate. It is important that we do look at climate change. I am very keen to enter into this debate, but I tell farmers to stop organising it through the National Party and Federated Farmers. Let us have some decent debate. I had a debate with a number of these people before the election.
I have one final thing that I want to say, to a friend of mine in Southland called Mr Affleck. He is all upset about the fact that the Government has finally decided to do something about energy and stand-by generation. He said that the Government has been panicked into providing stand-by generation. Well, about 2 months earlier he was saying that the Government had been derelict in its responsibilities in not providing stand-by generation for exactly these sorts of situations.
Hon Pete Hodgson: We did what he suggested.
MARK PECK: We have done something about stand-by generation, and now we are said to have panicked. I say that Mr Affleck should grow up and come into the real
world. He should enter into the debate in a proper manner, and at least have the ability to give some credit to this Government, which is keen on doing something about energy and doing something about climate change, and is promoting them in this bill. At the end of the day, we all live on these stringy little islands together. We are all in this together, and we should all be doing our bit.
SHANE ARDERN (NZ National—Taranaki - King Country)
: It gives me great pleasure to rise to speak on this bill. I say at the outset that I had made up my mind while sitting and listening to the debate that I was not going to be drawn into the debate about farmers and the flatulence tax, which has nothing to do with this bill, but the member for Invercargill, Mark Peck, has given me a golden opportunity to stand here, as one of the very few farmers in this House, and lash out at the Government over it. I congratulate him on that; I intend to do so.
When I was farming I used often to ask how far academics would go to make their theses fit the facts, and if ever I needed an example of that, this would be it—both the flatulence tax and the amendment in this bill. During the extensive select committee process on the resource management legislation the National Party brought forward 18 recommended changes, only to have this Government rule out the whole lot. Meridian Energy, a State-owned enterprise—the Government’s own energy company—brought forward 18 recommended changes to the Resource Management Act, only to have all of them ruled out. We are now here in this House debating legislation that will do none of those things. The only reason the National Party is supporting this bill going to the Local Government and Environment Committee is that we want those people to have an opportunity to bring forward again some of those recommendations. We have the naive hope that this time round the Government will take some notice of what those people have to say, but I do not think it will.
That brings me to ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which we have gone through in recent times. It is nothing more than an opportunity for the No. 1 academic, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, to stand on the world stage and promote her credentials as somebody worthy of employment post her being Prime Minister. I would go as far as to say that being Prime Minister of New Zealand no longer provides her with enough academic stimulation, and she is looking for her next job, which will be an international role somewhere or other.
That brings us to the stupid situation we find ourselves in now, where we have an idiotic tax on farmers being promoted. It is just a pure snatch-and-grab tax. It is put out there under the guise that it somehow will support research and development of ruminant efficiency. What an absolute lot of nonsense! Right at the moment, the primary production sector of this country—and members opposite should listen to this—spends more on research and development of this very topic than anybody else does, including the Government. Farmers are already funding research in this area.
The member for Invercargill, Mark Peck, talked about how the polluters should pay, and he is dead right; the polluters should pay, and we should start right in the place where the problem exists: the city. The city of Invercargill would be a good place to start, where there is total environmental devastation, and more problems than—
Mark Peck: This is great
SHANE ARDERN: Maybe the member opposite will take a call and tell me whether the construction and expansion of cities on our rural farmland is devastation of the environment. Perhaps he can tell me that.
In the case of the flatulence tax, does the member opposite believe that polluters should pay? Yes or no? If he does believe that, is he suggesting that the farmers of New Zealand, and the farmers of his electorate, are the polluters? If he is suggesting that, he should turn up at one of those meetings—and he has thrown down the challenge to do
so—and tell the farmers that they are the polluters. The very group of people who have provided this Government with the wherewithal to carry out its social engineering policies of the last 4 years are now the victims of this vindictive little tax.
It is interesting to note that the member opposite touched on farmers having a drop in their payouts from $5.30 to $3.62 without making a whimper. That just shows how out of touch he is. He clearly has not been reading the rural newspapers—that is for sure—and he certainly has not been attending any of the meetings that Fonterra has held. If the member had been attending them, he would know how much trouble this Government is going to be in as a result of that drop in farmers’ income—income that this Government has successfully taxed with its 17 new taxes.
Let us come back to the bill for a moment. There are 16 amendments proposed by the National Party, and this legislation addresses none of them. So what is it for? What will it actually achieve? Let us have a look at what is happening out there in the energy sector. We have a situation where there are a large number of proposed hydro developments—sustainable, renewable energy developments—and where are they? They have been held up in the resource consent process, or they are being denied the opportunity to proceed, because the Minister of Conservation says that 200 hectares of gorse is of significant conservation value. The Minister of Energy says the Government is going to put emergency generation in place. Well, that is an interesting concept. What will it use? My understanding is that it is going to burn coal. How does that assist in improving our greenhouse gas emission status? What will that do to decrease greenhouse gases?
Let us have a look at what some of the major industries have to say.
Methanex, in the Taranaki - King Country electorate, has said to me: “Apply any more of these stupid taxes on us and we will go off shore. We will go to Australia.” What will that result in, in terms of the Kyoto Protocol? It is most likely that it will produce less methanol, which will mean that China or some such country will meet the vacuum, producing it from coal. How does that contribute to our decreasing our total emissions of greenhouse gases, as a member of the world community? One of the members opposite might take a call and explain to me how that helps matters.
The Minister might take a call and tell us whether this emergency generation capacity is going to be from coal-fired power stations, from oil-fired power stations, from wind power, or from hydro power. I would like to know the answer to that. I bet the Minister will not answer it, because I know that it will be from coal-fired power stations or some other non-renewable energy source.
Hon Pete Hodgson: That’s right.
SHANE ARDERN: There we go. The Minister has admitted that that is the case. At the end of the day, how is that consistent with the Kyoto Protocol and the whole issue that this debate is about? I just ask members opposite to reflect on that.
I also ask members opposite to reflect on the notion that somehow or other the science around methane emission from animals is robust, because I have seen no evidence anywhere that it is robust. For every scientist who says that methane emission from animals provides 50 percent of the problem we have in New Zealand, there are other scientists who argue that that is absolute nonsense. Maybe the member for Invercargill, Mark Peck, will take a call and explain to us where his facts have come from, because the reality is the science is suspect. It does not stand up. There is no real evidence.
I have a question for the Minister, for Mr Peck, for the member for Whanganui, or for whoever wants to take a call: what is the carbon sink value of the increased pasture that we have grown over the last 12 years, since the 1991 convention signing? What is the value of the carbon sinks produced by the farming sector in New Zealand from the
increased pasture production that we have had in that time? Somebody could take a call and tell me that. I am sure everybody knows.
David Benson-Pope: That’s why the rural sector doesn’t mind paying its way.
SHANE ARDERN: Do members know what stupid argument is being put up in response to that, from the likes of that urban-based whip over there, who would not know a farm if he fell over one? They say the pasture is grazed off every 30 days. Do we not cut down pine trees every 25 years? What is the basis for that assertion? [Interruption] Why does the member not get up and take a call instead of bellowing out from the other side of the House like a walrus in rut? Why does the member not take a call and tell us how this is substantiated?
The fact is the science is not robust, and there is no evidence to back up this stupid claim. Farmers already invest the highest amount of anyone in research and development of ruminant efficiency. This Government’s argument has no legitimacy at all.
JILL PETTIS (NZ Labour—Whanganui)
: National Party members should focus on science for a moment, rather than focusing on the political panic that they find themselves in, because 1 year on from the last general election they are still at 22 percent—the lowest poll rating in National Party history. That is what they are panicking about. They could not care less about the climate. This debate has got nothing to do with the climate from their perspective—this is about saving their own bacon. I am telling Shane Ardern that he is on the hook already—he is hanging up drying. That is what has happened to that party, because it has ignored the serious issues. I want that member to respond—
Shane Ardern: Anywhere, anytime, and I’ll debate it.
JILL PETTIS: The member should zip his lips for a minute and respond to this. Would National repeal New Zealand as being a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol? The National Opposition has gone quiet. It has gone very quiet, because that member, who has been exhibiting a fair amount of exhalation himself, will not commit and say that National, if it ever got back into power again—which it will not—would repeal New Zealand as being a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. We know you would not. We know that it is all gas and nothing over—
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): The member will not bring me into the debate.
JILL PETTIS: Sorry, Mr Assistant Speaker. I most certainly would not bring you into the debate. The National Party knows it is not going to repeal it at all, so it should stop all the bluff and bluster.
The facts are that climate change is incredibly important to our agricultural sector. Responsible farming leaders have already signed up to research.
Mark Peck: Fonterra has.
JILL PETTIS: Fonterra, which is a leader in the industry in this country, has signed up to research. AgResearch and other key organisations, like Crop and Food Research, have signed up to this. Those Luddites opposite want to ignore what is happening in reality. They should do what this Government is trying to do. National members should provide some leadership, show some intestinal fortitude, look to the future, and provide some policy directives—that is the important thing to do—instead of playing politics because they are concerned about their flagging poll rating. Federated Farmers are worried about membership, but we all know that what each farmer will pay for the greenhouse gas emissions equates to a membership of Federated Farmers, anyway.
Mark Peck: Less than.
JILL PETTIS: It is less than the cost of membership of Federated Farmers. People should be members of Federated Farmers. I am a great supporter of people belonging to
credible organisations. This debate is too important for members to be preoccupied with party politics and with saving organisations that are under a little bit of threat and pressure themselves. This is an important debate. There has been a bit of argy-bargy in the House this afternoon, but I am absolutely serious when I say that this is an issue that is critical to New Zealand’s future. It is critical to the sustainability of our key industries. I ask the National Party to be responsible about this issue. I think that, in reality, National members know that the agricultural community is looking to them to be responsible. The responsibility to show a bit of get-up-and-go, and to look to the future in any decisions we make about climate change in this country, rests on the National Party’s shoulders.
JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green)
: It is extraordinary that a few farmers are setting themselves up as more expert on the science of climate change than the whole of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on whose scientific work—the work of hundreds, in fact, thousands of climatologists—the Kyoto Protocol and the International Agreement on Climate Change is based. It is extraordinary, is it not, how farmers know so much more! I point out to the House that this bill is not about methane, it is not about agriculture, and it has nothing whatsoever to say about research levies on methane, about farming, or about agriculture. It is simply being used as a vehicle for the National Party to try to run its latest campaign in the House.
The Green Party welcomes legislation that raises the profile of climate change in the everyday decisions that New Zealanders make. We have been calling for this for a long time, because we will not solve our contribution to climate change unless it becomes part of the thinking of New Zealanders at every step they take in their lives. This measure raises the profile both of the threat of climate change to our economy, our environment, our way of life, our climate, our farming, and of the opportunities we have to take action now to prevent this catastrophe from being as bad as it could be. There is no doubt at all that there will be some climate change as a result of what has already been emitted to the atmosphere and what is still being emitted to the atmosphere. That is unavoidable, and that is why this bill provides for adaptation strategies to be a part of what local government should consider in their activities under the Resource Management Act. We certainly still have the opportunity to prevent a runaway climate-change effect that would in fact end life as we know it—the way of life that we are used to—if it were allowed to continue.
This legislation complements the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, passed in 2000, and the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, set up under that Act, which provides many mechanisms for controlling our use of energy, moving to more efficient uses of energy, and to renewable resources. It complements it by providing for such measures to be taken into account in the decisions made under the Resource Management Act—which are important decisions that otherwise could not be influenced by the National Energy Efficiency Conservation Strategy.
It is one thing to have overarching policies, international agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, talk of a future carbon tax, and carbon trading, but we need mechanisms by which the day-to-day decisions that people and local authorities take can occur with climate change in mind. That is what this legislation provides. First of all, it raises the status of renewable forms of energy as distinct from fossil fuels. We are at a crisis point in our energy supply. Our largest single fossil fuel reserve, the Maui Gas field, which has provided us with extraordinarily cheap and abundant energy for the last 25 years, is now close to the end of its time. No other source of gas is available at the same price, and no other source of gas is available in the same abundance. That means that we are at a decision point now as to how we will replace a third of our primary energy and a quarter of our electricity supply. It will either be with coal—at which stage we may as
well leave the Kyoto Protocol, because we would have little opportunity of meeting our commitments under that protocol if we were to go that way—or it will be a mixture of efficiency, conservation, and renewables, which are the things provided for in this bill.
This measure also raises the status of the efficient use of energy, so that that can be taken account of in all local authority decisions. For the first time legislation mentions the need for adaptation strategies. Local councils are particularly well placed to think ahead to the effects that climate change, particularly rising sea levels and changing rainfall patterns, may have on their communities, and to put in place robust strategies to build some resilience into their local communities to cope with such things when they occur. This means that when a council is looking at building a coastal road only 1 or 2 metres above sea level, it might think again about whether it should be a little higher up. Councils need to be aware of things like sea-water infiltration into sewage, freshwater supplies on the coast, and the effects of the increased biosecurity threat from tropical pests and diseases that, over time, will find New Zealand a more welcoming place than they do at the moment.
The bill establishes that regional councils should not take into account carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and industrial plant when they are giving consents for air discharges. This is because it is easier to deal with those things at a national level than at a local level. I am very glad to see that the removal of carbon dioxide emissions from chimney stacks from the purview of regional councils does not absolve any local authority from taking account of the climate change effects of the other things that they do. The bill specifically provides that councils should still consider the effects on climate change of their other decisions. Those decisions are legion. When a supermarket wants to locate a long way from town, the council has the right to consider how many more vehicle kilometres will have to be travelled for people to get to that supermarket if it is away from where people live and away from public transport routes. A council can take climate change into account in its responsibilities for providing for public transport and in its responsibilities to design more sensible urban form whereby land-use activities are located close to public transport corridors and public transport nodes in order to reduce the need for travel, and also in its provision of facilities for walking and cycling, in order to reduce greenhouse emissions from burning fossil fuels.
A couple of years ago the Local Government and Environment Committee conducted an inquiry into the role of local government in meeting New Zealand’s climate change target. That inquiry drew heavily on the very generous devotion of time by Local Government New Zealand and many of the councils in New Zealand who met with us to discuss how they saw their role and what kind of legislation they needed to facilitate the clear role they have in addressing climate change. Our committee found: “Resource consent has been approved for two major new fossil fuel-burning power stations since we presented our interim report. We have noted above that it is not clear how the RMA should be applied to sources of greenhouse gas emissions.” The report also states: “We agree with the tenure of submissions”—and this came through strongly from regional councils—“that greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector should be considered at a national level. It is not possible under the RMA for a regional council to require the retirement of an old electricity plant in one region as a condition on the commissioning of a newer more efficient plant in another region.” Those things, clearly, have to be dealt with at national level.
Since that time we do have the Government announcement of a carbon tax from 2007, which will restrain fossil fuel - fired power stations. However, we still do not know the level of that tax because it will depend on the international price of carbon, and there is still some uncertainty about whether the policy will be followed through 4
years from now. There is enough uncertainty around it that I doubt whether it is acting as a sufficiently strong restraint, at this stage, on the building of new thermal plants. The committee said at the time: “we consider more direct consideration and mitigation of the greenhouse gas emissions of proposed new major electricity plants is necessary, at least until climate change policy instruments have brought about significant pricing signals.”
Hon JUDITH TIZARD (Minister of Consumer Affairs)
: I rise to support this excellent bill and to congratulate the Minister on introducing it. The bill will put in place the necessary measures to support the Government’s well-established climate change and energy policies. It will provide a basis for a national coordination of controls on greenhouse gas emissions and make sure the effects of climate change are flagged for the attention of everyone working with the Resource Management Act. The bill will provide national leadership and clarity of roles, and also a reduction in costs for administration, compliance, and participation related to energy and climate change matters. I commend this bill to the House.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (NZ National—Port Waikato)
: The National Party will support any vehicle that might improve the Resource Management Act. As my colleague the Hon Nick Smith said just a brief while ago, the Act contains something like 240 provisions, and at least 16 of those need major change. This bill is merely tinkering with the Resource Management Act, and, in itself, is highly confused and compounds the extremely complicated situation the Labour Government has got itself into by imposing its original climate change bill on New Zealand.
The only reason we are supporting the bill is its first stated object: “to give greater weight to the value of renewable energy, and clarify that energy efficiency should be a consideration, regardless of the energy source.” It goes on to state the second object: “to give greater weight to considering the effects of climate change, for example, addressing potential increase in flood risk, a rise in average sea level, and changes in typical rainfall patterns.”
It would be very interesting if the Minister could take a call and tell us how local government, with all the scientific expertise behind it, will be able to fulfil those functions of addressing potential increases in flooding risks, rises in average sea level, etc. I put it to the Minister that local government does not have the resources or expertise to do this, and it is absolute bunkum to suggest that it might have that capacity.
The third object of the bill states: “despite the second objective, to remove climate change as a consideration when considering industrial discharges of greenhouse gases, as these emissions are best addressed using a national mechanism.” What a tangled web the Labour Government has woven. It could not help itself; it has introduced the most complicated and unsound law on climate change possibly conceived by personkind. It was described by Professor Joseph as State-sanctioned trespass. New Zealand is the only country in the world that has—
Hon Harry Duynhoven: So what Professor Joseph had to say was very sound?
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: It was very sound, but the Government has done very little about it. Just yesterday I was sent a note from a variety of owners of glasshouses in the electorate of Port Waikato. These people will be profoundly affected by the Government’s so-called national climate change mechanism, and this is what they sent me: “The true impact of the proposed Kyoto initiative by the Labour Government of New Zealand.” The source of this information came from the Government website www.climatechange.govt.nz. Those people said the proposed emissions tax of $25 per tonne of carbon emissions will collect for the Government in the order of $1.2 billion in additional taxes. They say that ordinary New Zealanders will shoulder most of the new taxes, simply by having to pay more for their energy.
The Government has very cunningly got these so-called negotiated Government agreements with some of the big industries, and, undoubtedly, some of those taxes will fall on small to medium sized businesses, and the average New Zealander. I ask members to listen to what these taxes involve, and these predicted figures were taken from the Government’s own website: “The tax will be collected from New Zealanders in the following increases: petrol, increasing by 6 percent; diesel, increasing by 12 percent; power increasing by 9 percent; gas, increasing by 8 percent; and coal increasing by 19 percent.” These are the predicted taxes brought in by this Labour Government and being imposed on ordinary New Zealanders.
Let us have a look at the increases in taxes for business. The news is far worse: “The tax will be collected as follows: petrol, increasing by 6 percent; diesel, increasing by 12 percent; power, increasing by 16 percent; gas, increasing by 24 percent; and coal increasing by a whopping 44 percent.” They go on and say—this is all based on information from the Government’s own website—that the resulting loss of competitiveness will shut down businesses, both large and small, throughout the country. I understand that the Minister has had something to say about that with regard to the cement industry, for example. He does not seem to care. It goes on to state that cheaper imported manufactured goods sourced from non - Kyoto aligned countries like Australia, USA, and most of Asia will ultimately overrun those that survive the initial shock. Valuable and hard-won export markets will be lost to non-Kyoto countries. Large employers will be forced to re-evaluate and relocate to business-friendly countries like Australia.
Only 3 weeks ago, I was in Australia with the Education and Science Committee and several of the senators said to me: “Why on earth did you guys in New Zealand sign up to Kyoto?”. They said: “We are the biggest exporter of coal in the world, and even if we had signed up we would still be exporting that coal to China.” In other words, the emission of greenhouse gases from their activity would not have changed one iota. I understand that Genesis Power, or Meridian Energy—one of them—has just negotiated an agreement to sell coal to Korea. On the one hand, the Government is imposing this extraordinarily complicated system of tax gathering, and, on the other hand, one of our companies is exporting coal to Korea. That will only add to the accumulation of greenhouse gases. It is quite an extraordinary situation.
Let us look at what the
New Zealand Herald had to say, and we see here a picture of a smiling Marian Hobbs on the front. She says: “We are also focusing on the decision-making processes for major projects and reducing time delays.” But just the other day we heard from
Beca Carter that under Labour, under the Resource Management Act, it takes, on average, 8 years to plan a road. In Singapore they can do it in 2 weeks, but under this Government it can take 8 years. It is getting worse. Marian Hobbs goes on to say: “On average such projects take about 24 months from the time resource consents are applied for, to the Environment Court ruling.”—inevitably, they end up in the Environment Court. She said that was unacceptable. We are absolutely sure it is unacceptable, but she is in denial as to just how long these processes do take.
Earlier on in the year, Brian Fallow from the
New Zealand Herald quoted the Minister for the Environment, Minister Marian Hobbs: “Councils will also be directed to have regard to the local effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, when planning or making decisions on resource consents.” Well, I want the Minister to tell us what expertise the councils have, in terms of resources, to be able to make rational decisions on the very effects of rising tides, flood levels, etc. As I understand it, climate change science is extremely unpredictable. Even at best, with all the mechanisms in place, we are liable to get a net gain of about 3 percent, but with an uncertainty of about 30 to 40 percent. That is what this Labour Government is reliant on.
National will be looking at this bill very carefully during the select committee process, but we are very concerned about the Labour Government, once again, compounding the difficulties that it has got New Zealand into already.
DAVID BENSON-POPE (NZ Labour—Dunedin South)
: I would like to thank the previous speaker for sitting down, as would most members of the New Zealand community and of this Parliament. I do not think there is any area where that tired party has distinguished itself so little with its lacklustre and discredited arguments as the area relating to climate change. I think we could probably characterise the National Party as the party that believes that global warming does not exist, and when we put that alongside National’s discredited friends from ACT, the party that is so often quite appropriately referred to as the “Flat Earth Party” in this Parliament, we see why that is.
This legislation adds to the leadership role that this Government has already played in relation to climate change, by taking steps at least towards halting and, ultimately, towards reversing those undeniable effects on our environment. I am pleased to recommend the bill to the House and to the select committee.
Hon KEN SHIRLEY (Deputy Leader—ACT NZ)
: I suppose we should not be surprised that the member who has just resumed his seat, Mr Benson-Pope, did not refer to one aspect of the bill whatsoever, but rather engaged in a somewhat tedious attempt to throw mud at the Opposition side of the House. We have become used to such utterances from that member.
The ACT party is indeed very concerned about this bill, because here again we have the Government bringing to Parliament an amendment to the Resource Management Act. We should think back and follow the path leading to this bill. The Resource Management Act was passed in 1991, and it was obvious by the mid-1990s that there was a need for major reform—there were some fundamental problems with it. Simon Upton engaged in a massive review. Unfortunately, he became too bogged down in the process to get any legislation passed before the 1990 election. But he had introduced a bill with some significant changes. That bill went off to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee in 1999. There was a change of Government, and Jeanette Fitzsimons of the Greens was put in charge of that select committee. That select committee then completely overturned the whole amendment proposal that was designed to streamline the frustrations with that Act, and reported the bill back in March 2001.
What happened then? The Labour Government left the bill languishing on the Order Paper for some 18 months, and then in a sudden rush of blood to the head rammed the No. 2 bill through all stages under urgency, having overturned all of what I think were necessary, but not sufficient, amendments—what I call the “Upton amendments”. The Government rammed through the Fitzsimons stuff, and we had all those things like the reference to cultural landscapes, and the special provision for
wāhi tapu—all crazy stuff that the Prime Minister knew about; it had obviously been signed off in Cabinet. Then, if members remember this, the heat became too much for the Prime Minister, and in the Committee stage the Government did a back-down. I thank United Future for playing a key part in that. In propping up the Government United Future pointed out that that was crazy stuff, and the Government backed down.
But the problem we are left with is that a fundamental reform of the Resource Management Act is still required. Here we have the Government coming in with a very specific and very strange little amendment that does not address the fundamental problems with that Act that Minister Swain’s committee identified. Those problems are some of the biggest constraints to investment in this country and some of the biggest frustrations to local bodies and wealth creators in this country alike. Mr Swain’s review has been sidelined, and instead, right at the top of the agenda, we have this Resource
Management (Energy and Climate Change) Amendment Bill, because of this Government’s fixation on adherence to the Kyoto Protocol.
The last speaker for National asked a very good question, and we did not get an answer to it. He asked why the Government had signed up to the Kyoto Protocol. I would remind him that it was the previous National Government that signed up the Kyoto Protocol. I would like to know why it did that, because the Kyoto Protocol is an absolutely flawed instrument. Even the scientists who advocate for that protocol recognise that it will not make one jot of difference, even if it is fully implemented. One hundred years out from now the Kyoto Protocol will perhaps buy people 4 or 5 years, at best. And it is greatly unfair, as we all know, because only the annex 1 countries have to take action under it.
But to come back to this bill specifically, I am alarmed that here again the Government has finally told us to address the Resource Management Act, but it does not address the fundamental flaws in that Act. Instead, essentially, we are making some adjustments to section 7, and adding another special provision for energies derived from minerals. The explanatory note of the bill that is before us actually states: “… under the RMA the definition of contaminant includes greenhouse gases.” Well, that is a nonsense in itself. Why not address that nonsense? To say that methane or carbon dioxide, which are naturally occurring substances in large volumes, are somehow a contaminant is nuts. We need carbon dioxide in our atmosphere; photosynthesis depends on it. So for the Government to state, as a starting point, that carbon dioxide is a contaminant is very foolish. But be that as it may, the Government has decided to roar ahead with this amendment.
When we look at the energy crisis we see the Government has not addressed the situation that one of its State-owned enterprises has signed a contract to import 600,000 tonnes of coal from Indonesia. Trucks are pouring over the Kaimai Range as we speak, carting the imported coal from Tauranga to the Huntly power station. How much carbon dioxide emission is involved in (a) the transport of those thousands of tonnes, or (b) the burning of those thousands of tonnes of coal at Huntly? What did we have earlier this year? We had a very sensible proposal to build a hydro station of 65 megawatts on the Arnold River, on the Department of Conservation estate. Government members scoff at 65 megawatts, but it is a very significant block of energy.
Hon Pete Hodgson: How many megawatts in Huntly?
Hon KEN SHIRLEY: Oh, about 1,200 all up. But 65 megawatts are not to be sneered at. That is more than the total consumption of the West Coast, including the future expansion of consumption there. That station would have fed electricity back into the national grid. Government members laugh at those little hydro schemes, but I tell them that they are important. One will get a lot more energy out of those schemes than the Government will get out of its windmills. This Government has a fixation with windmills. That is largely what this bill is all about—to fast track windmills.
Let us look at what the Government said to foresters. If one was really concerned about climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and the foolishly flawed Kyoto Protocol, one would have put in a market instrument to encourage the planting of forests and the sequestration of carbon. But what was one of the Government’s first steps? It nationalised the property right of the forest owners, thereby removing the incentive for the private sector to keep planting trees and expanding our forestry stock. So the Government is into micromanagement, but messes it up at every turn. On the one hand the Government has taken away the property right of forest owners, who would have planted trees and sequestered that carbon, and on the other hand it then wants to give some sort of special fast-track benefit to what it calls “renewables” like windmills, which will give insignificant power volumes. The Minister will concede that in the
medium term, perhaps over a 20-year horizon, if we cannot get more gas we will have to burn a lot of coal in order to maintain our basic energy demands. This bill has not addressed any of that; it is all about political correctness.
One part of the bill I do agree with: the Government has made it clear to local government that it should not be applying itself to discharges from industries, in terms of greenhouse gas, by having a national policy statement in effect. I support that. That is the only part of this bill, to me, that does seem to make sense.
But the Government stands condemned, through not taking the opportunity to do the major review of the principal Act that is required, and which it failed to do earlier this year when it rushed a foolish measure through under urgency, having left it languishing on the Order Paper for 18 months before that. Now the Government comes to the House this evening with this very narrow, very minor, politically correct amendment that fails to address the basically flawed nature of that Act.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the Resource Management (Energy and Climate Change) Amendment Bill be now read a first time.
||Labour 52; New Zealand National 27; Green Party 9; United Future 8.
||New Zealand First 13; ACT New Zealand 8.
|Bill read a first time.
Hon PETE HODGSON (Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change)
: I move,
That the Resource Management (Energy and Climate Change) Amendment Bill be
referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee, and that the committee finally report the bill by 25 November 2003.