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Kennedy Graham's General Debate speech on climate change and the climate protection package

During the past adjournment the Green Party launched its climate protection package. It is an understatement to say that this far-reaching policy has been well received. Critics of the policy have been limited to the Government, which fashioned the current scheme, and those benefiting financially from it—they who are polluting with near total freedom while the taxpayer foots the bill.

The climate Minister, true to form, veered off-key and found that the Green policy exceeded his worst fears. That may prove to be the most prescient political statement he ever makes. Mr Groser's dismissal of the Green policy was lampooned in the Dominion Post editorial as "lazy and arrogant".

Overall, support for the plan is extremely positive. Business commentator Pattrick Smellie describes the tax as "a good idea" and the Government's response to it as "mildly hysterical".

Business commentator Bernard Hickey says that "most people think the ETS has been a failure and that New Zealand had back-pedalled on climate action, and that a climate tax would be more efficient than the ETS."

Business commentator Rod Oram said "The ETS is a scam. The Greens' carbon tax would fix it."

Business commentator Brian Fallow described it as a way of "shifting the burden from household incomes and business profits and on to polluters."

Prominent economists Matt Nolan and John Small have shown support.

Farmers Weekly ran with the headline "Emission plan to reward good farmers".

The policy was described as a masterstroke on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon. What of the political commentators?

Matthew Hooton concluded "embarrassing for all concerned, but on first glance I think I support the Greens' climate change policy over National's or Labour's."

David Farrar said the policy "had credibility and merit".

Martyn Bradbury calls it "a brilliant political masterstroke".

Political commentator Bryce Edwards says "The Greens have shown us why they're still among the smartest operators in politics."

Toby Manhire said the climate tax cut is welcome because "it puts climate change squarely on the agenda for September's election." What of the interest groups?

The Taxpayers' Union said the carbon tax is "simpler, more transparent, and likely to reduce New Zealand's overall tax burden."

The World Wide Fund for Nature New Zealand welcomed it.

The Climate Health Council described it as a "specific, fair, and realistic plan to curb our greenhouse gas pollutants."

Forest and Bird said the Green Party is right to be making climate an election issue and to be campaigning for an end to subsidies for major greenhouse gas polluters. Anyone else? Yes.

John Armstrong in the New Zealand Herald said "In one deft stroke the policy has the Greens saving the planet, helping the poor, giving big carbon users an incentive to be more efficient while stimulating investment in more sustainable industries."

Gareth Renowden on Hot Topic said "This is a carefully considered and constructed set of coherent policies that should deliver substantial emission reductions without causing substantial economic dislocation."

Since the launch of the policy 2 weeks ago, I have also been meeting around the country with professionals, experts, and stakeholders on the subject. They are, of course, asking penetrating questions, which is a sign of the seriousness with which they view the policy. Some are understandably concerned at the implications of change that the policy contains. Who would not be concerned at the prospect of a fundamental national economic transformation? But without exception they are all constructive in their attitude and they appreciate the answers we are giving.

They know, along with the Greens, that policy to date has failed and a new course of direction is required. This is what I would expect because the days are gone when the deniers were given credence and the prevaricators could hide behind the deniers. We all know now we must undergo economic transformation. The Greens are going to lead in that endeavour.