Car ban for mountains problematic, out of the blue

The planned ban on car access to Auckland’s volcanoes is out of the blue and undemocratic, says ACT Leader and Epsom MP David Seymour.

“The Maunga Authority’s decision to end vehicle access to the top of Mount Eden and other cones comes after the government had promised that the Authority would not compromise existing public access and use rights [1].

“It is hard to reconcile that promise with this week’s announcement. For many New Zealanders, such as the elderly or those with injuries or disabilities, a ban on cars will effectively be an end to access.

“What stings even more is that today is 2014’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

“On a day when we should be celebrating inclusion and fair treatment, the Maunga Authority is threatening disabled, injured, and elderly people with, at best, a marginalising and bureaucratic process for gaining access to the summit, and at worst, a total end to their enjoyment of our mountaintops.

“Further considerations ought to be given to parents of small children, the tourists who contribute to Auckland’s economy, and cyclists, who would for some reason be included in the ban.

“Maybe some sort of restriction is justified to reduce erosion, pollution, or noise. But if that were the case, the merits of the ban should be able to stand up to public scrutiny and debate. Instead, the Authority has announced the ban from out of the blue, with no opportunity for public consultation or a cost-benefit analysis.

“The government should hold the Maunga Authority to the public-minded spirit outlined in its formation. The ratepayers who fund maintenance of these mountains deserve input.

“Matters of public access to our beautiful maunga should be matters of public consultation.”


[1] "There will be no changes to existing public access and use rights. Third party rights including infrastructure, buildings and leases will be maintained.“

Carbon tax and abuse of government power

Carbon tax would be an abuse of government power says ACT

“The Green Party’s proposed carbon tax is an abuse of a government’s power to tax and demonstrates why they should never be part of any government” ACT Party Primary Industry joint spokesmen Don Nicolson and Robin Grieve said today.

“The carbon unit that they want to tax is not even real; it is a highly politicised theoretical unit that is of too questionable a value to tax.

 “Livestock farming supposedly produce carbon emissions that cause global warming but in fact what they do produce is of a cyclical nature and no scientific link has ever been established between these emissions and an increase in the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gas. It is scientifically fraudulent to treat these emissions as if they do and it is a gross abuse of the government’s power to tax these so called emissions on the basis that they do.

“Not only is there a complete lack of any scientific link between livestock methane emissions and an increase in the atmospheric methane concentration, there is a well recognised assumption that livestock farming, when in steady state, has no impact on the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gas, meaning it should not be taxed at all. These factors coupled with a failure to recognise the role agricultural soils play as a significant carbon sink and store and the failure to account for soil carbon losses occurring under forestry, show how scientifically corrupt it is to state that the production of a kilogram of milk solid or meat produces a given quantity of carbon, and that a hectare of forest removes a given amount. Yet farmers are told this by our Government departments and their own industry good organisations and now the Greens want to use this information against farmers. “It is a scientific fallacy they are taxing here.”

The ACT Party is the only political party in parliament to consistently oppose an Emission Trading Scheme, and would dump the ETS which it describes as irresponsible moral exhibitionism on the part of the current National Government and its predecessors. 

“The ETS is an empty gesture by a government that seems too scared to stand up to the reality that the ETS is unnecessary, economically destructive, environmentally impotent and it is scientifically unsound. ACT believes policies that allow sectors the freedom to build resilience and adapt to the varying climate to be a more responsible government response” Grieve and Nicolson said.    





Russel’s Carbon Tax equivalent to 4.5% increase in company tax

Last week, the Greens announced a plan to replace the emissions trading scheme (ETS) with a greenhouse gas tax.
Industrial firms that emit greenhouse gases will have to pay $25 per tonne. Farmers will have to pay $12.50 per tonne. This is a BIG new tax, the equivalent to lifting the corporate tax rate from today’s 28% to 32.5%.
The tax will, of course, be harmful to the owners, employees and customers of businesses that emit greenhouse gases.
But the policy is even worse than that. It will also defeat its own purpose.
The Greens claim that this tax will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emitted and thereby reduce the chance of the climate warming. In fact, their policy will increase global greenhouse gas emissions.
They have again made the mistake of ignoring what other governments are doing.
Suppose that to produce a kilo of milk (dairy fat) farmers in country A emit more greenhouse gas than farmers in country B do. If the governments of both countries impose an equal greenhouse tax, then producing milk in country A will become more expensive than in country B, and profits will be lower. The production of milk will migrate from A to B and less greenhouse gas will be emitted globally. The desired result.
But now suppose that only country B, where emissions are lower, imposes the tax. Now production costs are higher in country B, and production will migrate to country A. This will increase the global greenhouse gas emissions caused by milk production. This is the effect of The Greens’ policy.
New Zealand milk production releases less greenhouse gas than American and European production because our benign climate means production here consumes less fossil fuel, even accounting for exportation.
But the governments of the US and EU do not tax their farmers for emitting greenhouse gases. The Greens’ policy will therefore divert dairy production from low-emitting Kiwi dairy farmers to high-emitting European dairy farmers.
Such a policy bungle would be funny if only the Greens did not have a material chance of being an influential part of the next New Zealand government.
Actions to reduce CO2 emissions in other countries will be limited to modest unilateral reductions of a largely token character. The Green Party should stop saying that the transition to a carbon neutral economy will be easy and painless.
The equivalent of a 4.5 percent rise in the company tax is a major burden on the economy, wages and jobs.
The chances of India, China and the rest of the Third World agreeing to forego or even slow their economic development to fight global warming is zero. Unilateral reductions in CO2 emissions by New Zealand simply make us poorer and less able to cope with the uncertainties of the future. Becoming richer and adapting to change is the only game in town for both the developed and the developing worlds.
As the economist David Friedman noted this year, preventing global warming is an international public good, which will therefore be greatly under-supplied. Adaptation to climate change is a private good that will be supplied at the optimal level by the market like any other privately produced good. Adaptation reduces the negative aspects of any global warming without stopping any of its positive effects, such as increased agricultural productivity.
Unless most other countries contribute in reducing carbon emissions, New Zealand’s efforts make no difference to the extent of global warming. The Greens want to make us poorer and deprive us of resources we could use to adapt to any warming that might happen.

ACT says responsible climate change policy is a "bottom line"

The Act Party today reconfirmed its policy on climate change focusing on mitigation and adaptation. This follows the release of the latest report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  

“Act’s policy is that the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) should immediately be abolished,” Act leader Jamie Whyte said today.  

“Our absolute bottom line to provide National with ongoing support on confidence and supply is that there be no expansion of the ETS until China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India and Japan and Canada take similar material steps to implement ETSs across their economies, including agriculture,” said Mr Whyte.   

“New Zealand is well ahead of any other country in imposing climate change costs on our economy – and we are the only ones even considering including agricultural emissions. We should not move any further ahead until the world’s top ten emitters follow.  

"We need a responsible climate change policy that sees us move in line with the rest of the world on mitigation and which focuses on any adaptation policies that are needed.  

"The ETS is the wrong policy for New Zealand even if every element of the IPCC report and its new climate change models is correct.”  

China, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India and Japan and Canada are together responsible for over 70% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions, while New Zealand’s share of global emissions has fallen over the last decade from around 0.19% to around 0.14%.  

Emissions in China and India are expected to keep increasing over the next few decades, with China expected to become by far the world’s largest economy by the middle of the century, and India is expected to become equal to the United States.  

No country outside the European Union currently operates an ETS.  The EU ETS excludes most of its economy, and does not cover agricultural emissions.

Right Thinking - the word from Wellington Nov 29



No law to set the price of broadband over Chorus copper


As RT reported weeks ago, legislation to overturn the Commerce Commission’s decision on the wholesale price of broadband over Chorus’s copper telecommunications network was never likely, for the reasons outlined then.  In truth, the Nats were already focused on a contractual fix with Chorus.  That said, the media stunt with scheduled press releases from the other political parties gave John Banks the opportunity to express publicly what had been conveyed to the Nats weeks ago in private: that ACT would not support legislation to quash a decision of the independent regulator.


UFB - one bad idea leads to another

As Chorus is discovering, partnering with Government on a technology project is a risk to shareholders.  Of course Chorus had little option in the circumstances. The Nats simply announced an election policy that they were building an Ultra fast fibre broadband network.  This had the potential to make Chorus’s business worthless if they did not jump into bed with government to access taxpayers’ money.  One bad public policy choice resulting from the desire to look visionary in an election campaign, now results in further bad public policy choices.

In other technology news, the next stage of the ebench project to provide near paperless records for the judges in the Courts is on permanent hold. Again no surprise: big-bang technology projects involving government nearly always fail. 


Drill baby drill: Greenpeace gives up

The Greenpeace flotilla so ably lead by Co-Skipper McDiamid of the Vega headed back to port and Greenpeace went off to Court in a bid to use the law to stop deep-sea oil prospecting. Getting in close proximity to the prospecting vessel the Noble Bob Douglas had failed to have any effect.  Greenpeace is a global corporate - it sets out to get earned media that can then be replayed in the English speaking world over the news cycle.  Emotion drives up donations to fund the national campaigns and HQ in Amsterdam.  That’s why Greenpeace activists abseil off buildings; occupy structures with oversized signs and enjoy being safely manhandled by authorities; it makes for great television.  Young journos love it too.  They are sympathetic (who can be against the environment) and they get the footage.   Greenpeace needed to stop the prospecting or get an OTT response from the Government.  They achieved neither.  Turning out activists to stand on beaches simply won’t play globally.  And seeking a judicial review in the New Zealand Courts is not as fruitful as being the subject of Russian justice.


Flexi-super is poor policy and misses the point

ACT is not that keen on Peter Dunne’s idea of flexi-super which allows retirees to take a lower payment sooner than 65 or a higher payment if they retire later at 70yrs. ACT thinks the policy misses the point: the current scheme is unsustainable.   Geoff Rashbrooke of the Victoria University’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies has done the numbers in a new working paper.  He makes three observations about flexi-super: first there is no individual pot of money, New Zealand superannuation is a generous welfare benefit not an annuity.  Second he thinks the discounted rate of payment proposed is about right.  However the bonus for late retirement at 70 is too generous.  Third he observes that opting for a lower payout earlier through poverty is not much of a choice.  He concludes his paper by saying that he was surprised the policy was ever taken seriously.


From hero to zero by word of mouth

Despite the boosting by the editorial writer of the NZ Herald who declared the CCCP to be without taint, the rest of media and other politicians including the PM have been having fun with Colin Craig.  There appears to be no end to his willingness to express his views on the broadest range of topics.  The CCCP is really all about him.

Watch John Banks on the campaign trail in Christchurch East with ACT candidate Gareth Veale yesterday on the subject of Mr Craig – it is classic.


The Wrap


Steady hand on the tiller award

The steady hand on the tiller award of the week goes to Energy Minister Simon Bridges who made sure Greenpeace did not get the video footage they wanted.


Elvis has left the building award

The Elvis has left the building award of the week goes to Colin Craig who is learning that the easy bit of being the NZ Herald’s kingmaker is now over.

Right Thinking - the word from Wellington Nov 15


Partnership Schools are on the way

Tomorrow (details here) is the opportunity for Aucklanders to hear Nick Hyde who is the CEO of the Vanguard Military School one of the five new Partnership Schools championed by ACT.  Nick and his family have a proven track record of leadership in the education sector with running the Advanced Training Centre’s Military Prep School.   You can read about the other successful Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua announced by John Banks and Hekia Parata here.

Getting the public policy right around expanding school choice and empowering the parents of some of our most vulnerable students is only half the battle.  ACT’s own Catherine Isaac played a major role in making sure that New Zealand got world leading policy.   Best evidence also shows that great schools require great school leaders.  Come along a join us at the Auckland North Regional Forum tomorrow if you can– you will be inspired.


Goosing CCCP polling; Labour tanks the economy grows

For the past fortnight the Nats have been talking up Colin Craig’s Conservative Party (CCCP) in an attempt to goose his polling numbers with the journalists joining in. For the journalists, Craig has all the potential of being New Zealand’s version of Australia’s Clive Palmer.  That makes for great copy if your beat is politics.  It also sets up a nice pattern.  As Mr Craig makes up policy on the trot; is it a bottomline?  If so, how does Mr Key respond?   

The real take-out of the polls has been missed. Labour’s leadership change hasn’t worked.   What is also becoming clear is that while Mr Cunliffe is bright, he is also lazy.   He isn’t on top of his material in Parliament.  It also comes across in his glibness; what sounds profound on first hearing does stack up on closer inspection.   The more Labour MPs profess to be energized, fired up and good to go the more unhappy many look.  Rodney Hide has a thesis that Labour is still more pre-occupied with itself than the country, despite the best efforts of Mr Cunliffe.

Out of the GFC shadow

Poll numbers are not the only numbers that matter in politics.  Those around economic fundamentals also matter.  The post GFC economy is emerging.   Economic growth is up to 2.7 per cent to the year to June and likely to hit over 3.5 per cent in election year – the ANZ Bank says they see a potential for economic growth at over 4 per cent.  Unemployment is down, inflation, current account deficit, and 90 day Bank Bills interest rates are all up consistent with real economic growth.  With a growing sense of economic security those voters that Mr Cunliffe needs to win are not the stay-at-homes but those that swing between Labour and the Nats; they are less likely to shift away from Mr Key in an election about economic credibility.


Fast followers now out on a limb?

This week Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott introduced his Bill to repeal the carbon tax with Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey introducing an accompanying measure to repeal the mining tax.  While the Bills have to get through the Australian Senate, these taxes are dead. 

It places New Zealand in a tricky position with our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).  The purpose of our ETS was to ensure that we were seen to do our bit to reduce carbon emissions even if in fact the ETS didn’t actually reduce emissions.  Officials freely conceded that any drop in New Zealand’s emissions would make no difference to the climate anyway.  No, what mattered was we were seen to be doing our bit.  New Zealand was to be a fast follower not a world leader.  With the moves in Australia, New Zealand is not only a world leader with our ETS we are out on a limb.   Only Europe has an ETS and it is nowhere near as broad or as ambitious as our one.  What is more there won’t be ETS or a carbon tax in the US or Canada any time soon.  Surely being a fast follower now means dumping the ETS?


The Wrap

Emotional intelligence bypass of the week

This one goes to Russel Norman Co-Leader (and real leader) of the Greens and his contribution to Parliament on Typhoon Haiyan.  The purpose of the motion was to express New Zealand’s sympathy to the Government and peoples of the Philippines.  Instead, Dr Norman made it about domestic politics and about the Greens by reading a long highly emotional statement from a Philippines delegate at a global warming conference in Warsaw.   Most in the Parliament thought it crass.  You can see John Banks statement on the Typhoon here and you can make a donation to the Red Cross here.


Standing your ground award of the week

This one goes to ACT’s own Gareth Veale who has an unshakable confidence in his city of Christchurch and his Party.  ACT is a great campaigning party; we will be taking our message to the people of Christchurch East in the by election and to the wider city.


Upcoming Events

  • Auckland North Regional Forum, Takapuna Yacht Club, 39 The Strand, Takapuna, Saturday, November 16, 1.30pm - 4pm, Cost: $10.  Hosted by Beth Houlbrooke.  Speakers include Dr Jamie Whyte, Nick Hyde, and Professor Robert MacCulloch.

    To RSVP, you may register online here. Alternatively, you may contact  and direct credit your fees into the 'ACT NZ Auckland North Region' Bank Account 01-0121-0120885-00, putting your name in the particulars.

  • Canterbury Regional Forum, Saturday 23 November, 2.30 - 4.30pm Cotswold Hotel, Papanui Rd, Christchurch.

Russell Norman’s comments not only insensitive, but inconsistent

“Russell Norman’s use of the devastation in the Philippines as a platform to spotlight climate change politics was not only insensitive, but displayed wilful ignorance of scientific data,” ACT Party Spokesperson Robin Grieve said today.

“The IPCC 5th Assessment Report, released this year, directly contradicts Mr Norman’s assertions that man-made climate change is causing an increase in extreme weather events like typhoon Haiyan,” said Mr Grieve.

“The extensive report clearly states that ‘current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century’.

“It goes on to conclude that ‘there is low confidence in attribution of changes in tropical cyclone activity to human influence’.

“Mr Norman’s party references the IPCC throughout its speeches and media releases, so one would think that they’ve read the latest document. Choosing to ignore the IPCC’s findings in this case would be sheer hypocrisy from the Greens.”



Chapter 2 p60

Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century

Chapter 11 p4

There is low confidence in basin-scale projections of changes in intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones (TCs) in all basins to the mid-21st century.

Chapter 11 p33

Modes of climate variability that in the past have led to variations in the intensity, frequency and structure of tropical cyclones across the globe—such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (e.g., (Zhang and Delworth, 2006; Wang et al., 2007; Callaghan and Power, 2011); Chapter 14)—are very likely to continue influencing TC activity through the mid-21st century. Therefore, it is very likely that over the next few decades tropical cyclone frequency, intensity and spatial distribution globally, and in individual basins, will vary from year-to-year and decade-to-decade.

 Chapter 2 p60

In summary, this assessment does not revise the SREX conclusion of low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) increases in tropical cyclone activity are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. More recent assessments indicate that it is unlikely that annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have increased over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin. 

Chapter 10 p60:

There is low confidence in attribution of changes in tropical cyclone activity to human influence

Chapter 10 p50

Overall global average cyclone activity is expected to change little under moderate greenhouse gas forcing

Chapter 14 p30

It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged…….The annual frequency of tropical cyclones is generally projected to decrease or remain essentially unchanged in the next century in most regions.

This is what the Report says about extreme weather events:

Chapter 10 p54

At present the evidence does not support the claim that we are observing weather events that would, individually, have been extremely unlikely in the absence of human-induced climate change. 

On the subject of extra-tropical storms (large storms in high latitudes):

Chapter 14 p34

There is high confidence that the global number of extra-tropical cyclones is unlikely to decrease by more than a few per cent due to anthropogenic change.

Chapter 2 p57

There continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale. 

Chapter 2 p62

Confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low. There is also low confidence for a clear trend in storminess proxies over the last century due to inconsistencies between studies or lack of long-term data in some parts of the world (particularly in the SH). Likewise, confidence in trends in extreme winds is low, due to quality and consistency issues with analysed data. 

Full report retrieved from

David Parker's ETS Admission Piles Contradiction On Contradiction

Labour Finance Spokesman David Parker’s neat and succinct criticism of Labour's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) piles contradiction on contradiction, ACT Party President & ETS Spokesman John Boscawen said today.

“In a press release this afternoon, Mr Parker said ‘gas and coal generators’ carbon costs are incorporated into the price paid to hydro, wind and geothermal generators, despite the fact they have zero or low carbon emissions.’

“In other words, Mr Parker  is conceding that Labour’s ETS allows hydro, wind and geothermal generators to make windfall profits at New Zealanders’ expense,” Mr Boscawen said.

“Time and again I stood up in the House and said that Labour’s ETS would create windfall profits for renewable generators and it would hurt those on low-comes the most. But Labour didn’t care.
“In the same release, Mr Parker goes on to say that ‘under Labour’s [new energy] policy only companies whose generated electricity emits carbon will be able to charge for it.’  What this means is Labour is now trying to sell itself as the saviour of a problem it created.

“The point of introducing Labour’s ETS was to push the price of electricity up so that New Zealanders used less of it.
“Mr Parker needs to explain why he favoured giving renewable generators a windfall gain two years ago, and what has changed in the past two years to make him change his mind?

  “I would wager that this has nothing to do with caring about energy prices for households and everything to do with Labour’s campaign to upset the asset sales programme,” Mr Boscawen said.







Missed Opportunity on ETS

Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser has declined a request by ACT to make the ETS a truly open market mechanism, ACT Deputy & ETS Spokesman Leader John Boscawen said today.

“We wrote to Mr Groser asking him to submit a Supplementary Order Paper on the Climate Change Amendment Bill to ensure restrictions on international imports may be made only for qualitative reasons and not quantitative,” Mr Boscawen said.  

 “We did this because the current legislation allows future Ministers to ban high quality, environmentally sound foreign carbon credits.   

Doing so would push up ETS costs on New Zealand households and exporters for no environmental benefit.   In fact, Labour and the Greens are already on record saying they would like to do exactly that.  

Yesterday in Parliament, Labour tried to set a totally arbitrary restriction requiring 50 per cent of all credits to be New Zealand Units and not foreign ones.  
“This is like saying that 50 per cent of all goods sold in New Zealand must be New Zealand made – a return to Muldoon era policies.  

“Mr Groser could have ensured that future Governments would have to come back to Parliament and pass legislation in full view of public scrutiny if they wanted to push up costs on New Zealanders by restricting their access to foreign carbon credits.   But he declined to do so.  

“We are disappointed that the Government would not go further and use legislation to reinforce New Zealanders’ right to purchase carbon credits at the world price – it’s a missed opportunity.

“Nevertheless we are pleased to have supported this overall bill which greatly reduces the costs on New Zealand exporters and households,” Mr Boscawen said.