Parties blame each other for talks collapsing

Collapsed climate change talks between Labour and National disolved into bitter recriminations today as they blamed each other for the failure when they appeared to be close to agreement.

Labour quit talks on the emissions trading scheme (ETS) yesterday after the Government made a deal with the Maori Party to advance its scheme.

The new ETS will limit related energy price rises and give polluting industries an easier ride and longer to adjust through taxpayer subsidies.

An ETS puts limits on the amount of greenhouse gases different sectors of the economy can emit. Those that exceed the limits can offset them by buying carbon credits from those under their cap, or from those who plant trees.

The deal means the Government has a slender majority of 63 votes to advance its scheme to a select committee and doesn't need Labour or the other minor parties.

Both Labour and National had expressed the desire for a grand coalition on the policy to give it long term political stability

Prime Minister John Key said Labour did not have to pull out of talks and disputed Labour leader Phil Goff's claim National had reneged on negotiations.

"We hope they'll join us ... if they don't want to that's their call."

Mr Goff said Mr Key had made his decision and it was not one Labour could support.

Papers released today show that the two parties had been edging toward a compromise and further talks had been scheduled for today.

Those conducting the negotiations - Climate Change Minister Nick Smith and his Labour shadow spokesman Charles Chauvel - blamed each other for the break down in talks.

Dr Smith said Labour had failed to meet deadlines and had continually leaked information to the media about the talks.

Mr Chauvel angrily denied the allegations, saying he had acted in good faith throughout and met deadlines concerning today's meeting until National announced its deal with the Maori Party.

He believed National had been playing political games.

"National's conduct over climate change has been sneaky and shambolic," Mr Chauvel said.

He provided papers showing Labour was still expecting talks on details of the ETS just hours before a deal with the Maori Party was was announced.

From exchanges in Parliament today it was clear that both sides, and in particular Labour, thought they were close to agreement to an ETS that may have withstood election cycles.

Mr Goff said that possibility was now unachievable.

"We cannot support the proposal in its current form ... they could have reached agreement with us, they chose not to," Mr Goff said.

"That means the scheme will again be subject to change, we tried to give the certainty and predictability - we negotiated in good faith, the bad faith was not on our side."

Mr Key said the talks with the Maori Party was not part of any deal over other policy.

Add a Comment

drivesouth-pow-generic-1.png

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter