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Winston Peters Speech: Climate Change Yes, ETS NO

Speech – New Zealand First Party

This morning is an opportunity to discuss two issues. First, a serious issue for New Zealanders and indeed all of humanity and second, a relatively recent development in our laws which would, if New Zealanders were aware of it, be of equal concern …Rt. Hon Winston Peters Leader NZ First

Address: Ellerslie Rotary Club
Date: November 11 2011

Time: 7.45 am

Venue: Ellerslie Convention Centre


‘Climate Change Yes, ETS NO’

This morning is an opportunity to discuss two issues. First, a serious issue for New Zealanders and indeed all of humanity and second, a relatively recent development in our laws which would, if New Zealanders were aware of it, be of equal concern to them.

Dealing with the second issue first.

Last Sunday we laid out NZ First’s position on coalitions after the election. It is matter of grave regret that serious concerns NZ First has which led to our decision not to join any coalition has gone unreported. For none of those concerns were alarmist but indeed an honest assessment of what is happening to this country and any chance of building a future of national unity.

You have been told that NZ First is not going in to coalition. You have not been told why.

I have spent my whole political career focused on a need for New Zealand to have one law for all. That does not mean that you don’t have laws designed to help the elderly, or the very young, or special needs that some deserve help with, like blindness and learning disabilities for example. Such laws are designed for just some people but they’ve never been regarded as discrimination. And nor should they be.

But the issue that has concerned me and on which I have never been silent is a developing pattern of laws that says some people have special rights over those of other on the basis of race. Years ago at a National Party Conference I warned them of the dangers of misinterpreting signals on racial issues which was then being so mishandled by the then Labour Government of David Lange.

The conference delegates were asked to compare what was being done in New Zealand in the name of Maori equality to that which the black civil rights movement in America sacrificed to achieve.

In the 1960’s the black civil rights movement keep their eyes on the real prize. Breaking in to the best that white institutions had in education and employment so that they might have equal prospects of human fulfillment, and live out the promise of the Declaration of Independence – that all men were born equal.

It is therefore with growing alarm that we are witness today to a National Party going down the same path that Labour went – the pathway of separate development. And on this same journey is the Maori Party, the Green Party, and the Labour Party. All this is happening when the National Party promised, nay campaigned, not to do this.

Today New Zealand has

1.. Two flags 2.. The obligations of a UN Convention which says that in a dispute between Maori and the rest of New Zealanders then the Maori rights will prevail – even over any domestic law 3.. A foreshore and seabed which some have rights to and the rest of us, don’t 4.. A review committee in to our Constitution seeking to make the Treaty of Waitangi the cornerstone of it 5.. Emerging separate sections of our penal system 6.. Emerging separate sections of our Social Welfare system All of the above 6 developments happened in the last three years and without any consultation with you or the mass majority of New Zealanders, here for generations or arrived recently. After two decades of mass migration with attendant strains and stresses these unheralded and unwanted changes are now added.

That is why NZ First made a stand last Sunday to reject a path down which we believe New Zealand goes at its future peril.

We are not prepared to prop up any government whatever its political hue, however it is cobbled together, that encourages, even celebrates, such a prospect of future divisiveness. For that would be to support the torturous pathway to Zimbabwe.

That is why we made the stand. And New Zealanders are entitled to know it.

We are going in to Opposition to use every ounce of our energy to bring sanity to the political system. We have seen separatism and racial division in other countries, and we’ll do everything in our power to stop it happening here.

That is not a new view for NZ First. That is a view taken for my whole political career. There is no doubt, should this stand fail, what the prospects for your children and grand children, Maori or non Maori, will be. Bleak indeed.

Now to the first issue.

New Zealand is in need of a national understanding of the importance of Climate Change. Whether a believer or a skeptic what will matter to New Zealand as an export dependent nation is how the world sees us on this issue and, more particularly, what our international customers and markets perceptions are of New Zealand. That means that an irrational response to international concerns could cost New Zealand dearly.

Climate change is happening.

Reductions in greenhouse gases will be driven in future by large commercial customers overseas, keen to protect their environmental reputations. Market-leading supermarket chains in Europe, Japan and North America, have been demanding environmentally sustainable products from their suppliers for several years now. Consequently, New Zealand’s much-vaunted “100% Pure” branding is at risk if we don’t “Walk the Talk” as New Zealand’s Prime Minister found out on the BBC “HARDtalk” programme recently, where he tried but could not defend New Zealand’s “100% pure claim. Yesterday he admitted it and announced in the eleventh hour a clean rivers policy. But on Climate Change?

Now we know New Zealand is well-placed because 75% of our electricity generation is already sustainable hydro, geothermal and wood-off cuts with almost zero carbon emissions. Our natural gas-fired thermal generators are low carbon emitters. Contrast this with Australia’s electricity generation, based on coal. Australia is the “unlucky country”, when it comes to fossil carbon emissions, posing major sustainable energy substitutions.

However, New Zealand politicians have settled for the wrong solution – the unsuitability of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

That’s dangerous because adopting an approach of market forces on this issue will not work. The ETS is just another tax on people and production. NZ First does not subscribe to a ‘Wall Street’ takeover of the environment’ and profiteering out of just one more distortion of market forces. A Carbon Credit Bank to trade on turning environmentalism in to a speculative business, issuing Carbon Credits like they issue money is not the pathway for New Zealand.

We know that after this election every other party in parliament will be signed up to a faulty and expensive Emissions Trading Scheme with Wall Street characteristics.

In contrast, NZ First advocates that this serious issue be handled by Government and industry working together and laying down the rules. This approach does not depend on international foot dragging or great expense.

A New Zealand climate-change priority should be to reduce coal use and substitute alternative sustainable fuels eg wood, geothermal drying, even natural gas in the medium term, and the search for more efficient processes. Additional research will also be needed, to help better understand greenhouse gases, especially in agriculture and livestock farming.

The British have led the way in identifying the areas in their economies where significant greenhouse gas reductions can be achieved (the 2006 Stern Report) This could be similarly used as a model for a New Zealand staged reduction in greenhouse gases, with appropriately targeted R&D and technology development.

There should be environmental bottom lines. Our outstanding wild and scenic rivers need protection from damming. New Zealand is lucky too, in having a technologically advanced, export-oriented forestry industry, that can play a major role, both in waste wood being a sustainable energy source, and in trees also providing a level of carbon sequestration, in the short term.

In this well understood situation, and with many sustainable energy sources being available, negotiated performance standards, government assisted R&D, and a carbon tax incentive to change, are much better options than the uncontrolled financial machinations of an emissions trading scheme, where there is no opportunity for a plan of managed change and improvement.

The bottom line is that the proposed ETS will incur a very large cost – $2 Billion – that can be much better used to repay debt. Another advantage of targeted R&D, and managed change, is that potential new sustainable industries are likely to be developed, providing competitive export and import substitution advantages, and also allowing New Zealand companies to sell these to the world.

A further disadvantage of an ETS is the likelihood that New Zealand technological advances that create intellectual property rights, are likely to be lost to our economy.

Both issues discussed today are of the most serious importance. As we close towards the election, and facing the worst economic signs of my lifetime, New Zealand needs, not false optimism and bland promises of muddling through with aspiration, but a serious reality check and a hard examination of the facts.

New Zealand can make it to a better tomorrow but not following a direction littered with red lights warning failure.


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