Dunne calls for leaders to put egos aside

Labour and National should put aside their egos and restart talks on an emissions trading scheme, United Future leader Peter Dunne said today.

Talks between the two major parties on an ETS collapsed this week when National announced it had reached an agreement with the Maori Party.

Both National and Labour blame each other for the collapse.

The two parties have both opened the door to restart the talks, though neither side is willing to make the first call.

Mr Dunne, who chaired the special select committee that looked at the current ETS, said it was desirable for National and Labour to put aside their differences over the process and start talking.

"Frankly this issue is bigger than party egos. I think there needs to be discussion and I think probably in the first instance the minister probably needs to go back to Labour," Mr Dunne said.

Due to the agreement with the Maori Party legislation is going to be introduced next week and Mr Dunne believed it would go back to a special select committee chaired by him.

This, he believed, may prove to be the forum for the two parties to get back around the table again.

Mr Dunne said the two parties were not too far apart and if a compromise could be reached on agriculture that would go some way to bringing the parties together.

Both Labour and National have indicated they could live with moving the entry date of agriculture to 2014 - a year forward from Labour's position and a year back for National.

Other major points of difference are the method of the allocation of credits to industry and the level at which carbon price should be capped and how long that cap should last for.

The difference over when subsidies should be phased out could also be dealt with in the first statutory review in 2011.

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith said he wanted talks to begin, but did not appear to be willing to initiate them.

"Any time, any day that they wish to resume negotiations I will make my time available," Dr Smith said.

"The agreement with the Maori Party does not compromise any of the key issues of which Labour felt particularly strongly about."

Dr Smith said Labour had over-reacted to the deal with the Maori Party when both agreed it was good to get as many parties as possible on board.

"To some degree I have been surprised by Labour reacting so aggressively to the agreement with the Maori Party."

Labour leader Phil Goff said yesterday that the deal with the Maori Party was tantamount to cancellation of talks and if National wanted them to begin they should apologise first.

Meanwhile in Parliament, ACT and Labour both attacked the deal between the Maori Party and National.

ACT MP David Garrett questioned whether initiatives such as free insulation for low-income housing would be targeted only at Maori.

Dr Smith said it would not and the two parties were continuing negotiations on 13 areas, some of which would be dealt with in next week's legislation.

Labour said National had tricked the Maori Party into believing they were getting policy wins, when it was no more than repackaged existing policies.


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