National is attempting to re-write the Emissions Trading Scheme. The new version it has come up with through the special select committee would be weaker than the already weak version Labour passed.
But they’ve got a numbers problem. ACT won’t ever vote for doing anything about climate change, the Greens, the Progressives and Labour won’t vote for the significant weakening that National wants, and the Maori Party wouldn’t vote for the first ETS because it wasn’t strong enough. That leaves just National and Peter Dunne supporting the changes – not a majority in the House.
ACT won’t back down on their idiotic principles but, fortunately for National, they have a coalition partner who is much more willing to bow and scrape. The Maori Party.
This is where is gets a bit technical. Last Thursday, the special select committee agreed its final report back to Parliament on the new ETS. The four parties opposing it (the Progressives weren’t on the committee) had until 5pm that day to submit their ‘minority reports’, which are basically statements that they don’t agree with the committee’s main report and why. The Maori Party submitted one of those reports within the deadline. Since then, they have been leaned on by National. Peter Dunne, chair of the select committee, has given them time to change their minds, refusing to do his duty by publishing the committees reports (including the minority reports) as soon as possible.
Now, despite having just been screwed over on the supercity Maori seats, the Maori Party decided they would get into line behind National and support the weaker ETS despite having previously thought the existing ETS was too weak. So, they’ve decided they want to withdraw their minority report. But you can’t do that. There’s no provision in the rules for withdrawing a minority report after the time for submission has ended.
Labour spent half an hour of Question Time yesterday trying to get Speaker Lockwood Smith to force Dunne to publish the report as he is required to or allow Labour to publish it instead. Lockwood, who was clearly way out of his depth when it came to the rules, backed his party. Fortunately, the Clerk of the House (one of those ‘bereaucrats’) knows the rules and has refused to budge – the Maori Party’s minority report stays in (unless Peter Dunne can find a loophole before the house next sits).
Why does getting the minority report out matter so much? If it stays it puts the Maori Party in an untenable position – they want to vote for National’s ETS when it comes before the House but everyone will be able to see that they wrote a report damning that very ETS before they were bought off. They’ll look like spineless hypocrites, like they did when Sean Plunket (in one of those interviews that makes you remember how good a powerful interview can be) ripped Rahui Katene apart on the issue this morning (Katene skewered.mp3).
How’s that mana enhancement coming?