Smith on Labour’s environmental record

May 17th, 2008 at 3:04 pm by David Farrar

I’ve popped into National’s Lower North Island conference in Wellington for some of the speeches. First up was who assailed ’s environmental record. Nick pointed out the following under :

  1. increased 14%
  2. NZ placed 38th out of 43 for growth in emissions
  3. The proportion of energy produced from renewable sources has dropped from 72% to 66%
  4. Coal generated power has increased from 4% to 12%
  5. 75% of all new production has been thermal
  6. The first deforestation since 1952
  7. 40,000 hectares of forests destroyed in the last four years
  8. The Marine Reserves Bill has been stalled since 2001
  9. Funding for pest control has been cut
  10. No national policy statement produced, as promised, on biodiversity

As I heard and saw this, it got me thinking about why you never hear that from the Green Party? It is a mystery to many commentators that they are only at 6% or so, despite Labour having dropped into the 20s.

The need to think about whether they really want to gain significant support or not. Unless they like being a minor prop to Labour, they should set a target of 12% to 15% of the vote – something high enough that it is impossible for a centre left Government to be formed that does not include them.

To do that though, they need to stop being so polite about Labour’s record of failures. They need to take to Labour, like NZ First took to National in 2002 – and NZ First got 11%.

Could you imagine the media reaction if at a leader’s debate you did not just have Jeanette or Russel saying “Oh yes Labour could have done more” but instead was saying that the record was a litany of failure on the . The Greens would be on the front page of every paper.

Now one can say that I am fomenting mischief and the Greens attacking Labour will not result in a centre left Government. That is true. However a centre left Government is looking a very remote possibility anyway. So do the Greens want to be a 6% party in Opposition or an 11% party, which would guarantee it a significant role in a future Government?

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42 Responses to “Smith on Labour’s environmental record”

  1. Steve Withers (98 comments) says:

    Dave – Would any of the things Smith criticises Labour for failing to do have been any different under National? Only 2 years ago, National was opposed to Kyoto and denying climate change was real. Some senior National MPs still deny it. I think if National is going to use these points, they need to also demonstrate how they would have done it better. It is arguable that National’s allies in the business community have played a role in preventing progress on many environmental and climate initiatives. To then criticise Labour for being sensitive to those concerns, while your party would have done little or nothing in any case, seems hypocritical. (You know I don’t vote for Labour)

    Smith’s points are mostly valid, but whatever Labour has succeeded or failed to do about climate change, National would not have even attempted anything until quite recently – if even then.

    [DPF: I would argue that certainly in some areas National would do better, but that isn't the issue I am trying to get across. It is that the Greens should aim to get enough votes from Labour, so that the Greens can not be ignored as they are at the moment. Even if National is in power, they will have to take more account of a Green Party that gets 12% than 5%.]

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  2. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,681 comments) says:

    Yes David, You are right. For some time now I have wondered why the Greens continue to lash themselves so tightly to this sinking ship. All they have to do is repudiate the disastrous social engineering policies of Sue (At last the kids are safe) Bradford and enunciate some SENSIBLE environmental policies and they will double their vote. Of course they kicked out the real Greenies like Phil in favour of commies in disguise.

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  3. getstaffed (9,188 comments) says:

    The Greens have been totally and utterly ineffectual. I can’t understand how their level of support can stay as it is when they’ve done nothing other than prop up an environmentally indifferent government. The Greens’ supporters have been sold a lie.

    Steve- would National have delivered different outcomes? Who cares. Voters will judge the actual track record, not an imaginary delta between reality and past opportunity.

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  4. baxter (893 comments) says:

    Aw Cmon Nick don’t be a meanie, don’t forget their leader won an AlGore Champion of the Earth Award, or was that just for bullshit and lying at which she is an expert.
    STEVE… Iam not a climate alarmist, but I don’t think National would ever have threatened to steal the carbon credits from Forresters thereby ensuring that no more were planted.

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  5. roger nome (4,067 comments) says:

    “As I heard and saw this, it got me thinking about why you never hear that from the Green Party?”

    Don’t know where you’ve been DPF. I’ve seen Jeanette Fitzsimons criticise the government plenty over its poor performance with regard to the environment.

    Re carbon emissions – the government can’t win where the National Party are concerned. If they do nothing it’s hypocrisy, and if they move to affect change it’s economic doom. The truth is that New Zealand’s economy has grown rapidly since Labour came to power (faster than Australia according to the NZ Reserve Bank), and much of that growth has come from the GHG-intensive dairy sector.

    National has time and again criticised the Green Party and the Government for suggesting ways to limit GHG emissions growth in the dairy sector. How could we possibly forget the embarrassing “fart tax” campaign.

    We all know that David Parker has been looking to urgently move on global warming for some time. The main problem for him is that every time he tries to put theory into practice, out comes the National Party scare-mongering about economic devastation (even if Kyoto means only very slightly slower economic growth over the next 20 years).

    The public gets worried, Mike does some internal polling, and then the Government back-tracks. This has happened several times now. So the problem is primarily with National and Labour as I see it. National can’t resist trying to make some electoral ground out scare-mongering around environmental issues, and Labour doesn’t want to take the hit in the polls that would result.

    Labour needs to accept that National will play these games, and just get on with it.

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  6. getstaffed (9,188 comments) says:

    I’ve seen Jeanette Fitzsimons criticise the government plenty over its poor performance with regard to the environment

    Criticise? That’s funny. Perhaps she could have done something constructive for her cause… instead of simply enjoying her eco-unfriendly baubles.

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  7. roger nome (4,067 comments) says:

    “Perhaps she could have done something constructive for her cause”

    I don’t think any informed person would argue that Jeanette has done nothing constructive for her cause.

    She has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about Global warming, and we’re well on the way to having a workable emissions trading scheme as a result of it (though this may still be a while off given existing loopholes). As I said, the problem is primarily a dynamic between the National Party and Labour. The Green’s strategic position is relatively weak, and that’s the reality that they have to operate within for the moment. However, if they become the king-maker, of course that all changes.

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  8. roger nome (4,067 comments) says:

    “DPF: I would argue that certainly in some areas National would do better”

    What areas would they have done better in, had they been in power? Clearly they wouldn’t have done better at GHG emissions reductions. Also, given National’s cutting of DOC’s funding in the 1990s (National’s front-bench is currently stacked with fund-slashing neo-liberals from the 1990s), which lead to the Cave Creek disaster, it’s hard to believe that they would have performed better on the biodiversity/pest-control front.

    [DPF: It's simple. As National is a party of the right, the leftie environmental groups would attack it far more for stuff like emissions growth, and hence National would be more inclined to take action. Labour gets a soft pass from the same groups, so gets away with doing next to nothing]

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  9. MajorBloodnok (361 comments) says:

    I’m worried that National would be just “more of the same”.

    It is folly to commit the country to a direction based on unproven science theories — even if they carry the stamp of the “UN”. All we’ll end up doing is export our pollution to China, and force all NZ taxpayers to pay through the nose for the privilege. What sort of rational policy is that?

    Pull out of Kyoto, I say. And let businesses decide on their own, if they want to pay the “indulgences” to claim to be clean and green.

    After all, we don’t force our farmers to all be organic. They have a choice.

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  10. 3-coil (1,184 comments) says:

    Roger – Jeanette has wasted what little effort she’s made on environmental causes. She has been party to propping up this corrupt Labour government, voted against freedom of speech etc etc – whatever noise she squeaks about any topic now lacks any credibility.

    Green “frogs”?….more like Labour toadies.

    A vote for Green will be a vote for “more of the same”.

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  11. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    Roger Nome: “the National Party scare-mongering about economic devastation (even if Kyoto means only very slightly slower economic growth over the next 20 years).”
    You either underestimate the impact or simply are so anti business you don’t really care. Judging by your previous comments on Tiwai – “Good Riddance” I suspect it’s the latter. Anyway have a read of this;

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601081&sid=aIw4CSBFFcNk&refer=australia

    I will not vote for any party in the general election that will place NZ in any Emissions trading scheme that will be comparatively harmful to our economy, or to simply be first cab off the rank.

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  12. Southern Raider (1,377 comments) says:

    National should pledge to restart Project Aqua and legislate against any consent holdups.

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  13. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    SR. Exactly

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  14. Linda Reid (385 comments) says:

    We should pull out of Kyoto for obvious reasons.

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  15. Southern Raider (1,377 comments) says:

    Good for
    - the environment
    - North Otago economy
    - canceling out the shortful in generation capacity this winter
    - show casing NZ innovation and engineering

    Stopped by a bunh of do gooding Ponsonby pinkos who have never stepped foot in the South Island and let alone been to Oamaru.

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  16. roger nome (4,067 comments) says:

    Pat star:

    The effect [of the emissions trading scheme] on the economy is not expected to be great, with economic modelling predicting it might knock 0.1 percent off New Zealand’s GDP growth over 5 years.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0709/S00345.htm

    The story you link to is just a bit of posturing. Same with Rio Tinto. Oh and as to Rio Tinto – there was good reason for me not being too worried about their going. They signed a contract with Meridian (government owned) that entitles them to electricity at 4.7c per kWh between 2013-2030 – whereas the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research has forcast that the open market wholesale spot price between now and 2020 will be between 7-9c per kWh.

    That’s corporate welfare subsidies worth hundreds of millions, and it represents a massive drag on the economy. Enough said.

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  17. Southern Raider (1,377 comments) says:

    Hi Nome can you please explain whats the use of spare capacity that you can’t sell on the wholesale spot market when you can’t get it out of Southland?

    Do you even know what a spot market is? All major users have contracts locked in at fixed rates for the vast majority of their power use. They only pay spot prices for a small percentage of their use and for any excess requirements.

    Also although NZ faces power shortages and its good to see the Left admitting we are in the shit. It won’t be anywhere near 15% of the total usage so what are you going to do with the spare capacity that no one wants. Bottle it?

    Some basic maths for you. Even if you could get the higher price of 9 cents, but you could only sell 50% of the capacity you would still be getting less actual $$ than selling the whole lot to Rio Tinto.

    And not to sound overly aggressive if your quite happy to destroy the Southland economy I would like to met up to put some “massive drag” on your face.

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  18. roger nome (4,067 comments) says:

    SR-

    My partner’s from Oamaru, and is against Project Aqua. So am I actually. The government could reduce peak demand by incentivising off-peak electricity use more- thereby deferring any more need for production expansion for some time.

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  19. Frank (320 comments) says:

    Environmental record.

    For heaven’s sake take into account the actions of Mother Earth. The greatest destroyer of the environment. People are part of the environment, like every other living thing on this planet.

    And Mother Earth is assailed daily by the forces of nature. Prese3nt earth quake in China etc. Moon closer to earth than for a long time, sun spots-solar radiation. Man is pretty insignificant when it comes to natural disasters. How about Earth’s molten core? Get a bit of perspective!

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  20. roger nome (4,067 comments) says:

    SR- the dairy-farmers are crying out for more power, and the South island is now a net-importer of electricity.

    Also it’s expected that Rio Tinto would be much more likely to leave gradually, over about ten years – so the extra capacity would be gradually soaked up.

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  21. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    We had the “Greens pissed off” post several days ago:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/05/greens_pissed_off.html

    and there are plenty of negative press release-type things floating around on their website, *and* it sounds like they may not even back the ETS. This could be the start of a shift, but I would say we will find out after their AGM in June/July…

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  22. Inventory2 (9,791 comments) says:

    roger nome – the Greens lost their soul when Rod Donald died. And the Greens lost a lot of goodwill (as did NZ First) when the coalesced with Labour to ram through the EFA.

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  23. Southern Raider (1,377 comments) says:

    Nome she doesn’t live in Oamaru now and would be laughed out of town if she did. She’s no doubt a rapid pinko like yourself.

    So you think 10 years would be enough time to replace 15% of the jobs in Southland? Or would Labour prefer them to be on benefits so that they would stop voting National. Thats the real root of the problem they’re pissed off with Clutha and Invercargill being strong blue seats.

    Your other claims are bullshit as per ususal. How much power do you think is needed to run a dairy farm. They feed the cows grass not keep them under grow lamps like the ones your Green Party mates have.

    If the South Island is a net importer where is the power coming from and why is there an over capacity issue with the Cook Strait cable.

    You are so full of crap I’m embarrassed on your behalf!

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  24. Southern Raider (1,377 comments) says:

    Also Nome how do you expect to smooth out the power load.

    I don’t think the Unions are going to be very happy with you wanting to operator half of NZ’s factories at 3am in the morning.

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  25. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    Roger;
    You truly have to be pulling yourself linking David Parkers press release to justify the economic impact of the ETS? Like he has any credibility left anywhere!

    You’ve also previously run your theory of economically adjusting for Tiwai’s loss, but have failed to answer my previous questions on whether the economic/social impact of shutting the Huntly Power station was taken into account (that was part of your grand plan) I suggest it was not.
    Bluescope Steel has put on hold $1billion investment in NZ because of the ETS. They will also reconsider the future of the Glenbrook mill, which at 1,200 employees, is the country’s largest single site employer and contribute more than $80 million per year to the South Auckland economy.

    I quote from Bloomberg’s; “About two-thirds of the flat steel New Zealand imports already comes from countries with no carbon charges and that will likely increase under the government’s plan. European regulators have exempted their steel makers from emissions trading, recognizing that they risked closure with the resultant loss of their output to nations not committed to reducing pollution. Australia is considering similar protection and New Zealand should do the same”

    Is this “just a bit of posturing” an international conspiracy that all other governments have taken seriously and have been sucked into? and our Labour govt are so familar with “who blinks first’ that they know better?

    Of course industry will move offshore

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  26. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    I would take the Greens a bit more serious if they had the courage to call the Liarbore scum to heal. Once again the issue isn’t that Liarbore don’t care about the enviroment it’s their screwed up ideology that is the cause of all our major enviromental problems e.g, how many trees have been felled because Liarbore seeked to take property rights of the forest owners. The Green party is so naive it’s funny, like the other pinkos that go under the banner of Liarbore they refuse to look to history for direction. Every fucking tax, every new law, every repression of the people just makes matters worst as far as the enviroment is concerned. The only way we can protect our enviroment is to make that enviroment valuable to the people. Making everyone poor is not going to save the enviroment, one just to has to compare the USA to countrys like China and India. As these countrys become richer and if they respect property rights then and only then will their enviroment improve.

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  27. Ari (69 comments) says:

    Yeah, I doubt Rio Tinto will leave their cushy subsidies behind and “hurt” our economy doing so. (imagine what sort of gainful employment we could subsidise with that cash if they left? We could actually build some good renewable energy generation, for one)

    I’m not even going to bother challenging you guys on Kyoto here- if you can’t understand that the IPCC is the consensus opinion of both the most prominent scientists and skeptical thinkers with all of the range of opinions on climate change represented fairly, and instead dismiss it as “UN bureacracy”, then you’re not really ready to discuss climate change in a non-adversarial fashion. :)

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  28. Southern Raider (1,377 comments) says:

    Ari where is the cash for these subsidies going to come from if Rio packs up?

    Typically bloody lefty. Everything requires intervention and welfare to fix.

    We had a great renewable energy plan called Project Aqua and your greenie mates got it cancelled.

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  29. Steve Withers (98 comments) says:

    National needs to look outside the square….. Here is a free policy suggestion. Cover yourselves in glory.

    There is huge scope for power conservation and micro-generation. Project Aqua would take the better part of a decade to build and was projected to cost $660m (IIRC) several years ago. That would be higher now.

    That same money could be used to replace incandescent lights with low-power flouro lights (currently 15% of domestic power usage) and to equip 30% of NZ homes (in northern latitudes, where most solar benefit is gained) with solar water heating (up to 40% of domestic power use currently).

    The amount of power thus saved would be greater than Aqua would actually generate. Though most of the water heating savings would be in the warmer months, that would still save on fossil fuels being burnt in the north and see less water being spilled from the hydro lakes in the south, enhancing security of supply year round.

    All these installations could be completed well before Aqua was completed. The equipment would be made in NZ, providing jobs right from the beginning. Get one of the govt-owned generators to run this business in the same way that NZ post runs Kiwibank. Revenues and profits go back to the taxpayers, ultimately.

    I did the numbers on this several years ago. The other advantage to these measures is you begin to gain the benefits from the very first conversion or installation. A new industry would grow up to service and maintain the estimates 400,000 installations in homes and businesses.

    Schemes like this make more sense than Aqua and would require a lot less in the way of debt and resources consumed. Only problem is no generator can make a profit from it….unless they actually set up and run this business.

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  30. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “National needs”

    One thing they don’t need is any advice from life long communist propagandists posing as objective commentators. Like you lot would ever have the faintest idea about any kind of sustainable enterprise. All you ever do all over the world and all you have ever done throughout history is bring countries and economies to their knees, just as you’re slowly but surely doing in NZ.

    Just leave business to business people. Free market economics will save NZ, not loser mentality government owned enterprises from the same commercially stunted school of thought that gave rise to such great economic power houses as the Soviet Union, Romania, North Korea, Cuba and Libya.

    You think this business would be so successful, take your proposal to the private sector, raise money from share sales and get on with it. Just leave the friggen taxpayer alone. He suffers enough already from compulsorily funding the hair brained schemes of anti-capitalist leftist losers.

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  31. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    Steve Withers:
    You make some great points here, I have often thought about the comparative cost of installing solar water heating systems and building a new power station, glad to see you have done the sums & it makes sense. The power would be saved mainly in the warmer months, but that is when we have power shortages due to low lake levels, which is perfect.

    Patrick Starr:
    If you want to keep out of an emissions trading scheme, the only two parties who will do that are Act and The Family Party. Act is on 1% and the Family Party doesn’t even register on the polls. We need to get the message out to voters about this.

    Southern Raider:
    When NZers think of power generation they automatically think of hydro, such as your reference to Project Aqua. But we are already overly reliant on hydro, this is why we have power shortages in late summer – winter, but plenty of power in spring. More hydro power is an inefficient way to improve this. In a dry year there is more electricity demand (more irrigation and increasing use of air conditioning as people put in heat pumps), but less power supply from hydro. We need more power generation in dry years, not less.

    To achieve this we need a range of renewable power sources, that can generate more power when the lakes are low. Wind could play a part, but the output will fluctuate with the weather. Wave power could be better when the technology is mature, geothermal would be great too. Solar would be great as it would have higher output in dry years, but is very expensive and we don’t have large tracts of desert to put it in like other countries. :) Possibly the best plan would be to sink a few decent turbines into Cook Strait and generate power from the enormous currents going through there.

    Hydro schemes do work. But there are plenty of alternatives to consider with less environmental cost. And if we want reliable power supply we need a range of generation methods so we can stop running out of power every time there is a dry year.

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  32. stayathomemum (140 comments) says:

    OK then Steve Withers – why don’t you: “actually set up and run this business” if it’s so good!

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  33. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    Redbaiter and stayathomemum:
    Frankly, who cares whether Steve Withers suggested way of installing solar water heating is “communist” or not. The key point he makes is that it would be cheaper to solve our power shortage problems through micro-generation than through putting in a new power station. Remember too that you lose a lot of power during transmission, and Steve’s suggestion removes this power loss too.

    Steve has done the sums and his method would work. If you don’t like it, you come up with a more right-wing way of implementing it you would be more happy with. Don’t criticise his suggestion without coming up with a better alternative.

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  34. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Frankly, who cares whether Steve Withers suggested way of installing solar water heating is “communist” or not.”

    I do actually. There’s far too much communist shit going down in this country and we’re all paying the price economically and socially.

    “Don’t criticise his suggestion without coming up with a better alternative.”

    I did that. Please read again. So did SAHM. You appear to have missed the main issue, ie the use of taxpayer funds to get the thing off the ground.

    “Steve has done the sums and his method would work.”

    Communists can never do such sums, not accurately anyway.

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  35. Bob (443 comments) says:

    The Greens have an ideological hatred of National. They won’t criticise Labour too strongly for fear of giving support to National. Remember the Greens are very left.

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  36. MajorBloodnok (361 comments) says:

    The problem with domestic solar heating is that it is uneconomic, even with the Greens subsidies from the taxpayer.

    http://www.stephenfranks.co.nz/?p=359

    The problem with long-life light bulbs, is that to make it work as an energy-saving policy, you have to legislate. That upsets people who are sick of the state telling them what to do. Plus they are ugly, and there could well be commercial versions of more efficient incandescent and LED light bulbs in the future.

    Other options? We have enough coal to power NZ for thousands of years. Instead of making power with it here (oh dear, I used “coal” and “power” in the same sentence!), because that is verboten by the socialists and greens, we ship it to China so that they can burn it there! Or how about one nuclear power station? Zero CO2 emissions. And no birds chopped up (unlike the wind farms).

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  37. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    MrDennis,
    I didn’t necessarily say I wanted to stay out (although I suspect its more about left inspired international wealth sharing than the environment) I said (5.01) I will not vote for any party in the general election that will place NZ in any Emissions trading scheme that will be comparatively harmful to our economy, or to simply be first cab off the rank.
    I’ll wait until the Nats roll out policy and then make up my mind.
    My first objective is to see the back of Labour and the Greens (and Winston if that’s not asking too much)

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  38. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Remember the Greens are very left.”

    Extreme left. They’d have to be to think National were “right wing”.

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  39. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Southern Raider, it seems a bit odd that you said “Typically bloody lefty. Everything requires intervention and welfare to fix.” when you are talking about LIFTING the SUBSIDIES from the aluminium smelter, which is the recipient of PLENTY of welfare!

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  40. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    And turns out SR was talking about the subsidies that could be used for employment purposes, so I am a bit wrong. Still, plenty of subsidies going towards the smelter, why not to other ‘employment’…?

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  41. Southern Raider (1,377 comments) says:

    Can someone please explain to me how the Smelter is getting “subsidised”. They may get a good price on power, but its not below cost. As far as I am aware they don’t receive any assistance from the Govt.

    It like me buying 5 TV’s at Harvey Normans and getting a discount. Is Harvey Normans subsidising me or just recognising the purchasing power of bulk buying?

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  42. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    Contrary to what others seem to think, I still feel small-scale solutions are a good idea, especially solar hot water. Most cost estimates I have seen show it paying itself off in a reasonable period at current power prices (although this is obviously not the case in every situation, there is always an exception someone can quote, it is cheaper to install in a new house than retrofit onto an old house for example). In addition to being economic, it reduces the load on transmission lines and means you still have some hot water even when there is a power cut (depending on the system).

    Small scale solar and wind electricity generation don’t yet stack up economically if you already have a connection to the grid. However if you are making a new house, especially in the country where it is expensive to connect to the grid, these can be the cheapest option as you are saving your connection fee, which could be $15,000 or more in many situations if power lines need to be put in. There are lots of different ways of getting electricity apart from hydro and coal that are well worth considering.

    Note that I would not necessarily advocate government subsidies to promote this small-scale generation. I would advocate government ensuring that legislation (such as the building code, building permits etc) does not stand in peoples way to put in economic systems like this. Government could also promote the systems. I am not sure what the line is where government support should end and private investment start, others more wise in the area could figure this out better than myself. I just feel it is well worth considering and not to be put down simply because the person suggesting it is considered a “commie”.

    We cannot do away with coal generation completely. You need elements of the grid that are completely able to be controlled by us, and can be turned up and down with demand (unlike wind, where you have no control over when power is produced). I cannot envision a power supply system in NZ with zero fossil fuel use. However as the price of fuel increases globally, renewable generation will become more and more economic, as you don’t have to pay for fuel. It is well worth investing in this technology now, as it should save us money later.

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