It’s a brutal thing to propose more taxes and costs on business during our worst economic meltdown in a century.
But yesterday along with some stronger stick, comes some agricultural carrot as well.
In the Emissions Trading Reform bill that went through its second reading yesterday, Green Party Minister James Shaw has effectively raised the carbon price to $35.00.
Probably one could reasonably argue that there’s no good time to raise business costs like this, so the best time to send strong signals on which way the economy should shift is when it’s slowed right down and is seeking fresh direction. Like right now. it’s not like business confidence or investor confidence could get much worse.
The bill says we’ve got a carbon budget of 354 million tonnes from 2021 to 2025, and a new cap on the ETS of 160 million tonnes. The Commission will review that next year.
But there’s seeing wood, and then there’s seeing trees.
The forestry policy provisions of the bill get deferred to 2024 so that foresters can figure themselves out, and it delays penalties for small foresters. In fact there’s a fair few carve-outs for small foresters. Quite possibly these carve-outs are related to the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) bill which is also going through the House. Jones is working to try and save what is left of our local processing, rather than treating the forest industry as a tradable carbon sink.
Jones’ bill is about as loved as Shaw’s one. I cannot figure for the life of me how one bill that greatly enables the international trade in logs and forests is assisted by another bill that seeks to limit international trade in logs to ensure domestic building supply.
But now for the good news.
Sustainable farming gets a good funding shot in the arm today from Minister Damien O’Connor.
In particular, $28m for the whole horticulture industry to wean themselves off harmful crop protection practices.
Horticulture NZ explains it here.
Also due for voting before the House rises is Damien O’Connor’s proposed law for a consistent and binding definition of what “organic” means when you purchase a product with that label.
With that will come a regulatory system which is intended to more than pay for itself, so it will have funding to spend.
I hear submissions from all players including Organics NZ are now pretty consistent, and the Select Committee will get it into parliament in reasonably short order.
On balance that’s a pretty weird day for the agricultural environment out of this government.