25 May 2010

Parties at odds over ETS cost to rural sector

6:51 pm on 25 May 2010

An argument has blown up between the National Government and its support party ACT over the cost of the Emissions Trading Scheme to farmers.

Agriculture Minister David Carter has sent a memo to his caucus colleagues telling them that ACT and Federated Farmers are running a concerted campaign against the ETS, which begins in July this year.

Mr Carter said the figures being used in the campaign are at best misleading and aimed at raising fear amongst farmers.

Mr Carter rubbished claims that the emissions scheme will cost the average dairy farmer $10,000 a year, saying the estimated cost in the first year is $3,900.

ACT leader Rodney Hide says that is the same figure it has been using, but the cost will rise to $10,000 a year by 2015. He says the figures are based on modelling by Meat and Wool New Zealand.

Mr Hide rejected suggestions that his MPs are talking up the cost of the scheme to the rural sector and says a breakdown is occurring between the National Party and its supporters, who cannot understand why the Government is sticking with the ETS.

Prime Minister John Key says he is concerned that there is misinformation circulating about the ETS and that the rural sector has been fed some numbers that are fundamentally incorrect.

Mr Key says though the ETS will be unpopular in certain sectors, on balance there is an acceptance that New Zealand has to play its part in combating climate change.