The week of going backward

Written By: - Date published: 11:06 am, December 15th, 2023 - 30 comments
Categories: Christopher Luxon, climate change, Economy, ETS, science, Shane Jones, simeon brown, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

National is extraordinarily good with its rhetoric.  It could be said that its rhetoric is the best that money can buy.  And it has a lot of money …

I am sure we can all remember from earlier in the yeas what Christopher Luxon said about living standards and how there was a squeezed middle.  Or how he confirmed that under National New Zealand would meet all of its climate change targets.

It is telling what National has chosen to do first now that it is in Government.

During this week in Parliament it has chosen to smash through under urgency three changes, removing the effects of unemployment as one of the things the Reserve Bank has to consider, repealing the Fair Pay legislation, and getting rid of the clean car discount.

If this Government was determined to do something about the cost of living then making the Reserve Bank’s sole focus on this is the worst possible thing it could do.

The result of any change will be to increase unemployment and also increase interest rates as the Reserve Bank operates single mindedly to decrease inflation.

Both of these things will make matters worse for ordinary Kiwis.

For those who are made unemployed their quality of life will be dramatically affected. For those businesses who depend on their clientele having jobs so that they can continue to buy things from those businesses their profitability will be affected. And for those of us who have mortgages we will need to pay more to predominately overseas owned banks as interest rates increase.

And the change was pure theatrics.  The Minister already has the power by regulation to make proposed change although the effects are only for up to 12 months.  But it would removed the use of urgency and a more settled and informed reform process could have been taken.

Repealing the Fair Pay legislation was an act of pure spite.  How National can claim to be concerned about the squeezed middle when it attacks the one measure that would improve wages for poorly paid yet skilled workers.  The repeal reignites the race to the bottom that too many firms engage in where profitability is improved by attacking already poor working conditions.

And the clean car discount has been an outstanding success but something that National has engaged in a tacky little culture war for some time.  As said by Michael Wood:

I recognise that the National Party and the member opposite wish to turn every policy that is about addressing climate change into a tacky little culture war, but our Government is actually focused on practical measures that reduce emissions across our transport sector. Of course, what the member is trying to do here is present the Clean Car Discount as a policy that only applies to those purchasing a vehicle like a Tesla, and that is completely wrong. For example, the biggest make of vehicles that has attracted both the largest number of discounts and the highest total value of discounts have in fact been Toyotas. The two most commonly sold vehicles that have attracted a discount under the Clean Car Discount have been Toyota models that sell for under $20,000. Ours is a Government which is getting on with reducing transport sector emissions. We will keep doing that while the National Party continues to wallow in their lazy climate change denialism.

This policy displays some pretty rank behaviour from Christopher Luxon, whose household apparently used the scheme when buying a Tesla while at the same time railing against the scheme because too many rich people were using it to buy Teslas.

And Luxon tried to blame his wife.

It shows how indifferent the Government is to Climate change.  I guess this is not surprising when you think that the Cabinet contains a Minister who talks about the  “hysteria surrounding climate change”, and who wants to ignore the previous Government’s clean energy goals.  And restarting gas and oil exploration is not the action of a Government that is serious about addressing climate change should take.

Simeon Brown has repeatedly said that the Government would use the ETS to reach its climate goals.  The problem with that is this will cost the country an enormous amount of money.

And the Government has been warned about this in the Departmental Disclosure that Simeon Brown has refused to release.  From Emma Hatton at Newsroom:

A report by Concept Consulting finds repealing the scheme would mean about 100,000 fewer electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

That reduced uptake would add at least $900 million in costs, mostly because of the import of petrol and diesel, and increase carbon emissions by about 900,000 tonnes.

The costs and emissions increase further if changes to the Clean Car Standard are factored in, although the Government has yet to make decisions on whether changes will occur.

The report, commissioned by lobby group Drive Electric, finds if both the Clean Car Discount and the Standard are removed it will result in up to 3 million tonnes of emissions. If these have to be paid for with carbon credits, this could cost anywhere from $125m to $680m.

“If (as is almost certainly likely to be the case) New Zealand doesn’t meet its emissions reduction target, it will need to purchase offshore mitigation measures.

“Given that international efforts to reduce emissions are generally progressing at a materially slower rate than required to meet individual countries’ [targets], it is likely that there will be significant international demand for purchasing offshore mitigation credits. This suggests that the price of offshore measures which New Zealand will need to pay to meet its liability is likely to be at the upper end of the Treasury’s estimate – and potentially even higher.”

National’s indifference is not surprising.  They seem to be against the Government doing anything proactive to reduce CO2 emissions and want the dead hand of the market to do all the heavy lifting instead.  This is the only way to explain their criticism of the last Government’s deal with NZ Steel which anticipates reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which are the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road.  The project is forecast to have an abatement cost of $16.20 per tonne of CO2.  The current spot market for carbon is in the vicinity of $70.

Doing nothing is an option.  But it will make it way more expensive in the future to cope if the ETS is to actually function.  And in the meantime the country will be burning up the remaining carbon budget far too quickly.  If only the Government could think of the remaining environment in the same way that it thinks of money.

These three changes were rammed through with the use of heated rhetoric and complete indifference to the problems the original reforms were addressing.  I expect that we will see more of these sorts of retrograde steps in the coming months as this Government tries to take us back to an imagined paradise that never actually existed.

30 comments on “The week of going backward ”

  1. James Simpson 1

    I understand and to a degree agree with your frustration and criticism. However all they are doing is what they promised to do in the campaign.

    It highlights how bad Labour’s campaign was when we couldn’t convince people that these promises were bad for them

    • Populuxe1 1.1

      Well, no, not entirely. Nation are doing quite a lot more that they didn't campaign on, largely because it was the price of getting NZF on board and keeping ACT happy despite NZF being on board.

      • James Simpson 1.1.1

        This is what annoys me about NZ politics.

        The right come in, do what is good for their backers and don't give a fuck. They just get on and do it regardless of who suffers.

        We get in, piss around for 6 years. Seem to worry about upsetting business. Do less than half of what we planned. Then get kicked out.

        For once the left needs to get power and actually reform this society and economy and not worry about what the right scream about.

        • Tricledrown 1.1.1.2

          The Labour Party got kicked out not the left as a whole. Why Kiri Allen DIC etcetera Michael Wood not declaring shares then not selling. Stuart Nash, Twyfords kiwibuild,Clare Curran secret unautherized meeting then David Clark Health Minister breaking lock down rules Twice when every body was sticking to the rules the shear stupidity eroded the good which Jacinda Adern built up.Then to cap it off Trevor Mallard playing Barry Manilow and putting parliaments sprinklers on.When the protestors should have been moved on quickly .Politics is a death of a thousand cuts each mistake a govt makes leads to an erosion of support. This coalition is quickly raking up its cuts in more ways than one.

    • Adrian 1.2

      Bullshit. The scrapping of the smoke free system was one line in an associated partys brochure and appeared after early voting had started. Dishonest in the extreme. These clowns are on a dangerous and lethal trajectory fueled by constant lying. The sale and/ or scrapping of the ferries and KiwiRail was also never mentioned.

    • Ghostwhowalks 1.3

      Heres something Luxon explicitly promised in the campaign…. and then trampled into the mud

      "Luxon himself talked about being a government for infrastructure, telling a Building Nations conference: "Infrastructure will truly be at the heart of building a secure and prosperous future. It is essential for making New Zealanders’ lives better, and it is critical to getting New Zealand back on track. The party had a specific infrastructure policy, committing to high-quality, world-class infrastructure.

      When they formed a coalition with ACT and NZ First, they created an Infrastructure Agency complete with its own minister

      This week our world class infrastructure project was cancelled

      https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2023/12/lloyd-burr-opinion-christopher-luxon-s-ferry-snub-shows-he-s-all-talk-on-infrastructure.html
      I wonder how long it will be until LLoyd Bur, the next years AM show host, gets leant on by management as the really really outspoken journos do in this country

  2. I predict unemployment at 6% by Christmas 2024

  3. SPC 3

    They made a movie about it, Back to the Future and a TV series, United States of Tara.

    Pavlova Paradise for landlords, without the quarter acre sections and home ownership for everyone – instead 2 jobs to afford rent. What neo-liberalism actually delivered to the successors of the baby boomer generation.

    In the UK, little England, Brexit.

  4. Macro 4

    This is the start of the Great Leap Backwards.

    Mind you – they did say they were going to "Take our country back".

    They just never said to what era. Most likely the Jurassic.

    Dinosaurs ever one of them.

  5. AB 5

    A Holy Trinity of denialisms come together: the climate is not being screwed; neoliberal economics is not a scam where collectively-produced wealth gets pumped upwards to the few; Maori are not going to insist that their worldview is accommodated. A destructive rage against reality.

  6. Thinker 6

    To really respond to climate change, we would ban imports from the major polluter countries, but who is bold enough to do that?

    In the meantime we cut another 5% from our measly contribution to the global climate change, pat ourselves on the back and buy lots of goods that are only more affordable because of the lax environmental and employment standards in those countries.

    What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over.

    • mickysavage 6.1

      If we wanted to get to the goals immediately we would do that. In the meantime we would do the incremental things like improve imported cars sustainability and make sure that we could store hydro power when times are good.

      Your suggestion is not what was proposed. It was OK but not very brave. You are suggesting that the last Government went all William Wallace on it.

      In the meantime I think we should be at least as brave as the last Government. This current Government talks the talk but they are cowards engaged in a culture war when you look at what they are actually proposing.

      • Thinker 6.1.1

        No disagreement.

        My comment wasn't directed at the actions of the last government but at climate change attitudes in general.

        Like switching to electric cars and burning fossil fuels to generate the electricity. The end user feels good about their decision, quite rightly, but it won't change things much until people are encouraged to see the big picture of climate change.

        At home, despite living in the burbs, we are going back to mending clothes where we can, combining trips and using public transport let us go from two cars to one. That sort of thing. But we simply can't choose to but goods made in environmentally-friendly countries. Our budget doesn't run to it and it seems to us that the polluter countries have the mass market sewn up so climate-friendly products are luxuries.

        But, going back to your point, I agree that much was done by the past government that is about to be undone, seemingly on a political whim.

  7. Cricklewood 7

    This govt is defintly going be one of note in NZ for better or worse.

    They seem to be set on pushing through their agenda regardless of opposition perhaps its a cunning plan to get a whole heap of less popular stuff though early in the term so people for get a couple of years down the track.

    • Obtrectator 7.1

      Ah yes, dump all over the electorate right now (well, 95% of it, anyway), and then in '26: "look, see how much we've improved things since a couple of years ago!".

  8. KJT 8

    The absolute lunacy of cancelling the rail ferry project.

    This piece of infrstructure vandalism, which seems to be SOP for the new Government will cost many more times 3 billion, over time.

    Kicking the can down the road , resulting in long term infrastructure deficits fueling a continued descent into third world status, is a feature of National Governments which voters appear to forget at election times. The Nelson rail link is just one example. I suppose the Marsden Point rail connection will again be canned.

    This Government will be remembered in the same way as the Liz Truss fuckup in the UK. Unfortunately the bill will come in well after they are voted out. Just like the Key Government. Where we are still paying the costs of their myopic neglect of infrastructure, Health, Housing, education, and other essential building blocks of a successful country.

  9. Mike the Lefty 9

    Do we do what we have criticised the Labour government for not doing over the past six years – namely tackling child poverty and mental health; do we take measures to reduce the cost of living before Christmas?

    No – instead we remove Te Reo from official documents and titles and shit on low paid workers who will now no longer be assured that they won't be dropped casually on the waste heap at an employer's whim and give owners of dirty diesel Ford Rangers and landlords a Christmas bonus.

    Good to see that National has their priorities sorted.

  10. Tricledrown 10

    The Grinches are in charge more people living in cars and tents while the well off and wealthy get tax cuts and landlord's get a $ billion.

  11. Jester 11

    It's not all bad. The sun is shining. Business confidence has increased sharply.

    New Zealand Business Confidence (tradingeconomics.com)

    • Incognito 11.1

      Please don’t troll; it has been rising linearly & steadily for a year, according to your link.

    • Tricledrown 11.2

      Business confidence surveys basically a popularity contest of National Pary supporters.

      The economic outlook is not so good with 90% of Agriculture exports in decline most not profitable that will impact the wider economy ie manufacturing rural supply companies etc.China is not going to recover to previous demand as its alignment with Russia and expansionist policies intimidating Taiwan is costing China huge export losses permanently. As the likes of the US are bringing manufacturing back on shore with automation making it cheaper to manufacture locally. India, Bangladesh,Vietnam,Thailand are all undercutting China's competitive edge. The only thing keeping China afloat is huge subsidies for Car manufacturers selling at a loss. Internally China is in big trouble over leveraged property developments going bust.So NZ can't rely on China like in the past and NZ needs to find new markets new products for those markets.

      NZ has no plan for the future just cheap political slogans and tired old cliche's.

  12. SPC 12

    Given the week is not over there is yet more.

    The new government's Transport Minister ... In a letter to local authorities Simeon Brown said he told the New Zealand Transport Authority (Waka Kotahi) to halt work on cycling and walking initiatives.

    "I understand that some local authorities have been developing programmes with NZTA and other stakeholders to reduce vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) by the light vehicle fleet, using funding from the Climate Emergency Response Fund.

    "I have given notice to NZTA to end its work on these programmes, and to not commit any further funding to local authorities (beyond existing contractual obligations) to develop these programmes.

    VKT programmes are designed to reduce reliance on cars, and support people to walk, cycle and use public transport.

    Brown declined an interview with RNZ, but in a statement said the cycling and walking initiatives were a waste of time and money.

    "My priority in transport is to build and maintain the roading network so that we can have a safe, efficient and productive transport network which helps Kiwis get where they need to go, quickly and safely."

    Brown said the National-led government's approach to reducing transport emissions did not focus on telling people to drive less.

    "This is different to the previous government's approach. These programmes are therefore completely unnecessary."

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2023/12/transport-minister-simeon-brown-slams-brakes-on-cycling-and-walking-projects.html

    Roads, nothing but roads – sort of explains the InterIslander decision, we all have reason to fear for Kiwi Rail. Whether bus lanes will get a look in, or whether ot is all car, because the government favours private personal carbon vehicle transport, is not yet clear.

    This Minister is a strong contender to be the most backward of them all. But it is looking increasingly like a tight contest with such a ministerial line-up.

    If it burns and pollutes, this government is for it. Prioritises it (end of fuel taxes to finance Auckland’s transport plan). Over to Shane Jones.

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