The ETS: it can’t be environmentally friendly to have those National votes go up in smoke

Grassroots National Party supporters in Alf’s neck of the woods are among those howling about the prospect of big price rises thanks to the wretched Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Dom-Post today records Prime Minister John Key’s confirmation that there was an ETS protest vote at a party conference last weekend.

“There certainly was a remit and they certainly did vote against wanting the ETS, they did vote to delay it.”

The newspaper goes on to say:

The ETS has been contested at a series of regional National Party conferences, particularly among its grassroots farming base.

Agriculture Minister David Carter has been trying to assuage caucus concerns, like those raised by Alf. He has been emailing MPs to assure us that claims by ACT about the ETS were just “misinformation”.

Here’s hoping he’s right.

The numbers being bandied by ACT leader Rodney Hide are politically scaring. He said yesterday the ETS – which begins on July 1 – will gobble up any gains from tax cuts for 550,000 households earning between $45,000 and $85,000 a year.

Key is insisting Hide is wrong.

“The estimate I have is that the ETS will cost the average household about $3 a week and the tax cuts for someone on $50,000 – even if they consume the lot, net of GST, is about $14 or $15.”

Things are looking somewhat ominous, after the State-owned power company Mercury Energy announced increased prices from July 1.

It said the scheme would add an average $5 a week to residential electricity bills and $1.75 a month to gas bills.

Genesis Energy public affairs manager Richard Gordon told the Dom-Post retail prices will eventually rise and the cost of carbon will be built into those prices. “But we are not planning to put up our prices immediately or on July 1.”

Meridian Energy agreed the ETS would have an impact but

“…till we actually see it in play at the wholesale market we are finding it difficult to predict accurately [by how much],” spokeswoman Claire Shaw said. “As such we don’t see ourselves having to make a one-off adjustment to accommodate the ETS.”

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee is a bloody good bloke, of course. But his numbers are not so cheery. He reckons the ETS will cost households about $365 a year, so the Mercury price rise was “loosely in line with that”.

Dunno if Alf is supposed to be relaxed about that.

What do we hope to achieve by heaping this extra cost on householders who, much more crucially, happen to be voters?

Key is banging on about New Zealand having to “play its part” environmentally.

But he does recognise that a political price is being paid for playing our part.

“It will unquestionably be unpopular in certain places but on balance there is a recognition we need to do something.”

On balance, Alf reckons, the the public have been left utterly bewildered.

Nobody has a firm grip on how much this bloody scheme will cost us, and a good political rule of thumb for Alf when you can’t be sure what a new policy will do is do nothing.

Let the good people of Eketahuna be assured this would not have happened if he had been PM.

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