4 Sep 2014

NZ First willing to talk to Greens

9:38 am on 4 September 2014

New Zealand First has signalled it is prepared to work with the Green Party on initiatives to combat global warming.

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New Zealand First did not rule out the idea of a carbon tax Photo: AFP

During a climate change debate in Auckland last night the party's deputy leader Tracey Martin accused National and Labour of arrogance over the issue.

Tim Groser.

Tim Groser. Photo: AFP

Ms Martin said all parties should work together to develop policies to help reduce carbon emission, but both Labour and National thought they had all the answers.

She said New Zealand First did not rule out the idea of a carbon tax promoted by the Green Party.

"So absolutely we see there is a place inside wider solutions for there to be a carbon tax. Possibly we're not going as far as the Greens are - but lets have a chat about it later on shall we?"

National Party's climate change issues spokesperson Tim Groser does not agree with a carbon tax.

Nor does Labour's deputy leader David Parker, who said it would be better to strengthen the emissions trading scheme.

David Parker.

David Parker. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

"What do you do to fix it? Well you need to restrict offshore units coming into New Zealand and then there would a shortage of units in the New Zealand market and effectively the price will rise."

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said big changes had to be made to reduce New Zealand's carbon use.

"Lets have a transition strategy which says our target is not to increase our dependence on fossil fuels but to decrease it over time. That means the big changes we've got to make in transport which is the big area where we're really dependent - make the big changes in transport towards public transport walking and cycling, all that kind of stuff."

Internet Mana's spokesperson John Minto said building new roads was not the answer and his party's policy was to make public transport free.

Mr Groser, who came in for the strongest criticism from the near 300-strong crowd as he defended National's record in government, did not back down.

He said only three percent of kilometres travelled were on public transport but said National had still spent $2 billion on public transport while it's been in government.

"Upgrading rail in Wellington and Auckland - that makes a lot of sense. But please do not underestimate the cost of this. The subsidy for every single rail ride in Auckland is still a fraction under eight dollars per ride."

Mr Groser also defended National's diluting of the emissions trading scheme, saying it had been open about its view New Zealand should not lead the world on combatting climate change.

Others on the panel argued not only was National abdicating its responsibility for cutting carbon emissions, it was also failing to exploit the economic opportunities climate change presented.

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