24 September 2007
Key Notes No. 19
The Government's climate-change framework announced on Thursday is in line with National's proposals.
At the heart of the framework is an emissions trading scheme similar to the cap-and-trade system in our climate change policy, 50 by 50 . This is designed to manage greenhouse gas emissions and encourage cost-effective emission reductions across the economy.
National welcomes discussions on policy issues that arise from Labour's framework. We want to make sure the impact on consumers, households, and the economy is reasonable. But we also think climate change policy needs to include:
- Fast-tracking renewable energy projects. We need to reform the RMA to make sure that renewable energy projects can be built more easily, without the delays and costs that have held up sensible schemes around the country.
- Boosting research and development. Agricultural technology, and in particular, research in ruminant microbiology, has huge potential for climate-change gains.
- Global action and trans-Tasman cooperation. National sees trading advantages in a trans-Tasman carbon market, and in cooperating with Australia on research, development, and technology.
The challenge will be to slow New Zealand's rapid rate of growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Since Labour took office in 1999, emissions have risen by 12% compared to smaller increases in other countries. At the same time, we've seen record rates of deforestation, and the proportion of our energy that comes from renewable sources has fallen.
Distorting the next election
Labour's strategy to distort next year's election is becoming more and more obvious.
In the House last Tuesday, I confronted Helen Clark about a leaked document that instructs staff at a government-funded 0800 call centre to tell callers about Labour's health policies. It's an example of how Labour is using taxpayer money to push its political agenda.
We're bound to see lots more of this in the run up to the election.
The call centre will be up and running in April next year, at a time when every other New Zealander who plays a part in our democracy will face strict restrictions on what they can do under Labour's draconian Electoral Finance Bill.
The bill extends the election campaign period to January 1 in election year, for no reason other than to shut down opposition, and it severely limits what community groups and other third parties can do to publicise political issues – and even enter political debate – during that period.
The Human Rights Commission, in its submission to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, attacked the bill's restrictions on third parties. "It is difficult to conceive of a greater limitation on freedom of speech than this," it said.
The commission also said: "By limiting freedom of expression and creating a complex regulatory framework, the Electoral Finance Bill unduly limits the rights of all New Zealanders to participate in the electoral process. The Commission therefore considers that the Bill is inherently flawed and should be withdrawn."
And: "The bill in its current form represents a dramatic assault on two fundamental human rights that New Zealanders cherish, freedom of expression and the right of informed citizens to participate in the election process. The proposed legislation lacks public authorisation and as a consequence will undermine the legitimacy of political processes."
Getting New Zealand moving
New Zealand has a bright future, but we won't be able to make the most of our opportunities if we haven't got the right infrastructure.
When it comes to roads, we need to move from maintenance mode to expansion mode. We need to fix the congestion that clogs our major cities, and give our economy room to grow.
Last week I spoke about this at the Road Transport Forum in Christchurch. I outlined three things we need to do to get our road infrastructure up to First-World Standards.
We need to develop a comprehensive national transport plan that looks at the next 20 years and sets out what we're going to do, when we're going to do it, and how we're going to fund it.
We need to look at smarter ways to pay for road building. That means not just paying for new roads with cash, but with infrastructure bonds that spread repayments over the project's lifetime. It also means exploring the kind of Public-Private Partnerships that countries like Australia, the United States, Canada, and Britain use to build roads.
And we need to streamline the planning and consent process. We need to reform the RMA to speed up planning for roading projects, reduce costs, and grow our infrastructure while protecting the environment.
John Key MP
Leader of the National Party