United Future has now put out a press release applauding the government's climate change initiatives - while carefully sidestepping the question of emissions trading. I'm still trying to get hold of Gordon Copeland to ask him about that, but in the meantime, following his gloat in the House yesterday about the demise of the carbon tax, I thought I should also ask New Zealand First's Peter Brown about the issue.
New Zealand First's position on climate change was spelled out in their newsletter last month. They accept that climate change is a problem, but are a little confused on the precise details. What they don't accept, according to the discussion I had with Mr Brown today, is that the solution has to revolve around taxes. Instead, they think it is all about technology and trees - though why that technology would be adopted or those trees planted in the absence of an economic signal seems to be an unasked question. One of their chief concerns is that they don't want to see the "average punter" paying higher prices for electricity or petrol (they are especially concerned about the impact of high electricity prices on the elderly, who are already "freezing to death" in winter in some parts of the country). If there is to be a tax (or presumably any other form of economic instrument), they would prefer to see the revenue recycled into research (the thought of other forms of recycling e.g. into afforestation schemes or insulation refits so that the elderly don't freeze to death in winter doesn't seem to have occurred to them).
Strangely, they have "no view" on emissions trading, according to Brown - though this is probably because they don't really know what it involves. Apparently, no-one has even raised the issue with them (and they clearly don't see it as a key area they should focus their policy resources on).
When asked whether they would regard a pilot emissions trading regime as a breach of their confidence and supply agreement, Brown pointed out that the carbon tax got one line in the agreement, which promised a review. So its up in the air whether they would regard it as going back on their deal or not.