13 Aug 2023

Elections 2023: Political parties announce major policies

1:41 pm on 13 August 2023
Green Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw.

Green Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw. Photo: RNZ / Niva Chittock

Campaigning for October's election is in full swing today, with two parties expected to make major policy announcements.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins has made a tax announcement in Lower Hutt, confirming GST will be reomved from fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and revealing it will increase Working for Families for about 160,000 families, if re-elected.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is holding a public meeting in Invercargill on Sunday afternoon.

The Green Party have also made a climate-focused announcement about clean power.

The Clean Power Payment, which is planned to be part of a broader Zero Carbon Homes upgrade, will allow:

  • grants of up to $6000 to cover the cost of installing solar power and making energy efficient upgrades,
  • interest-free loans of up to $30,000 to cover the cost of additional zero carbon home upgrades,
  • tax deductible zero carbon upgrades for rental homes.

The Zero Carbon Homes upgrade is planned to:

  • scale up solar on Kainga Ora homes to 30,000 more households in the next three years,
  • expand Warmer Kiwi Homes to cover more zero carbon upgrades such as replacing gas heaters,
  • fund Community Energy providers and by Māori, for Māori approaches.

Grants could be used to cover 25 percent of the cost of things like better insulation; replacing fossil-fuel appliances, like gas heaters, with clean alternatives, like heat pumps; and to purchase rooftop solar power

The funding would come from revenue from the Emissions Trading Scheme, through the Climate Emergency Response Fund.

The total operating expenditure for all the initiatives in this area it planned would be about $682 million by the year 2026/27.

The party claims the Clean Power Payment will save households up to $1200 on their energy bills, every year, and slash carbon emissions.

It would be scaled up over three years, with an initial focus on lower-income households.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said while people struggled with energy challenges, the planet was heating "at frightening speed".

"There is a clear answer staring us in the face: warm homes powered by clean, cheap, low-carbon energy, supplied straight from our roofs," Shaw said.

"The Clean Power Payment is as close to a perfect investment as you can get: slashing soaring bills for families, slashing emissions, and creating thousands of good jobs," he said.

"Most people want action on the climate crisis and action on the cost of living. The time is now for a government that will deliver solutions that last, saving people money and cutting emissions month-after-month, year-after-year. That's exactly what the Clean Power Payment will do."

In its policy document, the party claimed the emissions saved from replacing gas appliances in households would be the same as taking 200,000 cars of the road.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said this would bring more relief to families in addition to their Income Guarantee plan, which would ensure people had at least $385 each week.

"Everything we need to upgrade our homes exists. However, most of us do not have thousands of dollars spare to pay for things like solar panels, heat pumps, or double-glazing," Davidson said.

"The Clean Power Payment will help people to upgrade their homes to be warmer, without relying on dirty fuels, so everyone can come home to a warm place which doesn't pollute the planet."

However, the Green Building Council is warning against an over-emphasis on solar power.

Chief executive Andrew Eagles said hundreds of thousands of people live in damp, mouldy homes and could not afford to fix them.

While the Greens' proposal would help to lower the barriers to improving homes, investing in solar was pointless if a home continued to waste energy through inefficient design and systems, Eagles said.

He urged all parties to work together to address cold, damp and inefficient homes.

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