Legislation a legacy for totemic Donald

Invercargill National MP Sarah Dowie addresses the House.PHOTO: PARLIAMENT TV
Invercargill National MP Sarah Dowie addresses the House.PHOTO: PARLIAMENT TV
Fourteen years ago this week, Green Party co-leader Rod Donald suddenly, shockingly died.

The anniversary was not lost on the Green MPs who inherited his legacy, one which current co-leader James Shaw acknowledged when speaking in the third reading debate on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill on Thursday.

Mr Donald, a man with a wry sense of humour and a gift for negotiation, may well have found much to be proud of and much to amuse him in a debate which saw the Greens advance some of their key policy demands - although not enough to satisfy their most ardent supporters, no doubt - and also saw National offer the Greens the most back-handed support for a piece of legislation you could ever hope to see.

Mr Shaw would likely take no comfort from National leader Simon Bridges agreeing to vote for the legislation in one breath and then promising to gut - or improve, depending on your allegiance - the Act within National's first 100 days should it win the next election.

However, 119-1 is 119-1 (while no vote was recorded, Act's David Seymour was consistently opposed to the legislation), and the Greens were entitled to pop a bottle of organic, biodynamic sparkling wine after the vote.

The debates on what is now the Zero Carbon Act and on its companion piece, the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill, were notable for the number of contributions by local MPs.

Over two days, between both pieces of legislation, Invercargill National MP Sarah Dowie and her Labour list rival Liz Craig weighed in four times apiece, with Clutha Southland New Zealand First list MP Mark Patterson, Dunedin North MP David Clark and former Otago Labour MP David Parker also having a say.

Ms Dowie's contributions were made with the proverbial dollar each way; as her party's environment spokeswoman she tried valiantly to establish National's green credentials, but was also mindful that the power-hungry Tiwai Point aluminium smelter is in her electorate and that her farming constituency has its doubts about being the first agricultural sector in the world to take part in an emissions trading scheme, no matter how tentatively.

National were "pragmatic environmentalists" which supported the broad framework of the Act if not every little detail, Ms Dowie said.

"It is about taking all New Zealanders with us, at a pace that New Zealand is comfortable with, taking into account the ability for New Zealand to produce food, taking into account the social effects of too much planting of pine trees in our rural area destroying our arable land, and taking into account the interests of those who live in cities, those who live rurally and in the provinces, and the economics that go along with that."

Dr Craig deputised 10-year-old Invercargill boy Enoch Surendran, the leader of an Invercargill School Strike 4 Climate protest in March, into her argument in favour of the Zero Carbon Bill.

"Over the last few months we received about 10,200 submissions and we heard from around 800 submitters

"Like many of the young people that spoke to us - like Enoch - what they were asking for was urgent action on climate change."

Mr Patterson spoke on the emissions Bill, a tricky assignment for a farmer - as National MP Nathan Guy reminded him by yelling out "Say what you really think" before being called to order.

"Forty-seven percent of our greenhouse gas emissions do originate from agriculture and we cannot meet those Paris commitments without addressing this elephant in the room," Mr Patterson said.

"This outcome allows for five years for the farming sector to develop an on-farm level emissions profile for farmers so that any pricing that might come in down the line is done on a case-by-case basis, so that we're actually incentivising good practice and we can design a system that does account for things like riparian planting, soil sequestration, and we can develop our farming systems and the continual progress and supporting of technology."

Select committee hearings on that Bill are yet to come, and no doubt they will bring some uncomfortable moments between Mr Patterson and farmers, whom he will be hard-pressed to convince that New Zealand First's claim it is bringing commonsense to the climate change debate is correct.

New Zealand First MP Mark Patterson PHOTO: FRANCINE KEACH
New Zealand First MP Mark Patterson PHOTO: FRANCINE KEACH
Warm fuzzies

As sure as day follows night, after Shane Jones makes a provincial growth fund announcement a New Zealand First MP will ask him in Parliament the following week what recent PGF announcements he has made.

This week, it was Mark Patterson's turn to make that inquiry, although given he had been at both last Thursday's announcements he hardly needed to be told.

"Dunedin is now coming out of the cold," Mr Jones replied.

"After an awful episode of rejection, neglect, it fell to me and my colleagues to make an announcement of $19.9million towards Dunedin's waterfront development project, and, in addition to that, a sum of $20million dedicated to create a more vigorous hub for KiwiRail."

The rhetoric, unsurprisingly, got even more flowery the longer Mr Jones went on.

Worthy work

The annual Dame Dorothy Fraser lecture will be held in Dunedin on Monday, with six notables speaking rather than the usual one.

Organiser, Dunedin South Labour MP Clare Curran, has enticed half a dozen of her first-term colleagues to the city to speak at Burns Hall on "Is Politics Worth It? Why I'm there, what I want to see change, and what I'm doing about it."

Liz Craig, Marja Lubeck, Deborah Russell, Ginny Andersen, Kiri Allan and Jan Tinetti will be speaking, and with the House in session the next day all will no doubt be hoping the airport is not weather-struck the following morning.

Comments

Who was it that had the gumption to stand against having a tyrannical body outside of parliament that will be authorized to restructure all of our society, by force, to meet a UN objective which has no regard for the NZ people ???
I will be voting for them because THIS IS THE EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO OUR COUNTRY not the increase of CO2 from 0.028 to 0.056% of our atmosphere.

 

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