Making an impact in Parliament?

This was round two(2) of two (Graham suffered KO in each) last week.  Graham turned white and sat down.


3. Climate Change—Minister of Finance’s Statements

[Sitting date: 08 August 2013. Volume:692;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]

3. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does he stand by the answer given by the Minister of Finance to the question “Does he accept that human-induced climate change is real?” that “It may well be …”?

Hon TIM GROSER (Minister for Climate Change Issues) : Yes, and now that I have had time to check the context, I can inform the member and the House that the context of this reply was when he was asked by Russel Norman whether the drought was attributable to climate change. As anyone who knows anything about the science knows, it is absurd to say that a particular event is related to climate change; climate change is the frequency of extreme events. To either deny that it could be the consequence of climate change or say that it was would not be a scientifically plausible response, so the Deputy Prime Minister gave the only respectable scientific response: it may well be.

Dr Kennedy Graham : Is he proud—[Interruption ]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Dr Kennedy Graham can start the question again.

Dr Kennedy Graham : Is he proud of his record as Minister for Climate Change Issues, especially the absurd increase of New Zealand’s net emissions under his watch, which have increased 20 per cent since 2009 and have reached their highest levels ever?

Hon TIM GROSER : I am extremely proud of the position that we are taking in climate change across all the policy spectrum. The member, who is fixated on trying to prove that New Zealand is some type of international pariah, might just ask himself the following question: if New Zealand was really “an international pariah on climate change”, how come in the last 2 years New Zealand has been invited for the first time to the big boys’ club, the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, because of the particular contribution that New Zealand makes?

Dr Kennedy Graham : When does he expect New Zealand’s emissions to peak, and when can we expect the emissions of this big boy to return to their 1990 levels?

Hon TIM GROSER : Only when the Prime Minister has granted me the magical powers that I have been seeking for some time.

Dr Kennedy Graham : If the Government is treating climate change as real, as he claimed yesterday, why is it spending $1 billion a year on new motorways that lock us into an emissions-intensive transport system, rather than investing that money in sustainable, low-carbon transport?

Hon TIM GROSER : Well, the Government is doing a variety of things to fix up the infrastructure of this country, including spending $1.7 billion on the railway network and purchasing new electric trains.

Dr Kennedy Graham : Does the Minister agree that the international carbon price is directly related to the functioning of the emissions trading scheme because the Government allows unlimited amounts of cheap credits, such as emission reduction units, to be dumped into our market, and when will he move to stop this?

Hon TIM GROSER : I really think the member should study carefully Sir Peter Gluckman’s report, and, in particular, the statement on page 19 that reads as follows: “New Zealand’s … emissions represent but a minute fraction of global emissions (less than 0.2%). Any action from New Zealand to mitigate emissions would have negligible [effect] … in real terms. Therefore, New Zealand’s contribution to the global effort … [has] more of a geopolitical [nature] …” So the idea that somehow New Zealand’s emissions are influencing the global price I think should be recast in terms of the underlying scientific reality.

Dr Kennedy Graham : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, the answer to the question completely missed the point of the question. The question is not how big we are and whether we can influence international prices; the question is how the international prices influence us. He did not address that.

Mr SPEAKER : I have got to be honest, I found the question a little confusing. I thought the Minister attempted—[Interruption ] Order! I thought the Minister gave a genuine attempt at answering the question. I will, on this occasion, if it assists the member, give the member an additional supplementary question. [Interruption ] Order! Order! I am allowed to be generous.

Dr Kennedy Graham : How does his acceptance of the reality of climate change and the need for action fit with his Government’s endorsement of a new open-cast coalmine at Denniston on conservation land, and how will this help our clean, green image that is so badly shaken by recent events?

Hon TIM GROSER : This Government has got a variety of objectives, and one of them is to try to improve our economy and increase jobs, decrease imports, and generally improve the situation for all working families. We will do what we do in climate change through a balanced suite of climate change policies. We will not sacrifice everything to the altar of climate change.

Dr Kennedy Graham : Does the Minister not realise that it is better to create new jobs through a quick economic transformation to a low-carbon economy and create green jobs than to rely on fading 1980s orthodoxy?

Hon TIM GROSER : There is absolutely a legitimate role for creating green jobs, and, for example, the work that we are doing to stimulate geothermal energy production is one of them. The work we are doing to try to sell geothermal services to countries moving into this space, like Indonesia, is another one. But the member should reflect on the abundant evidence that this idea that undifferentiated subsidies for green jobs, whether created directly by fiscal transfers or indirectly by regulatory frameworks, end up costing millions of dollars per job and are actually employment destroying.

Dr Kennedy Graham : Is the international focus on the truth behind our clean, green image not a reminder that we have to match our actions to words, not just talk about future reductions, and begin to achieve them now by strengthening the emissions trading scheme and introducing a cap on emissions?

Hon TIM GROSER : I have to say I consider that question a spectacular piece of bad timing, so I will repeat my point. We have every reason to be concerned about New Zealand’s reputation, but our action on climate change right now is not amongst those reasons.