By Bruce Wills*
Heading to Wellington’s airport my 70 year old taxi driver was musing about retirement when unexpectedly he hit the brakes, in one of his more commonly occurring ‘senior moments.’
Unfortunately my nose and forehead wore the brunt of his carelessness and before I knew it, there was good stream of blood dipping onto my suit and shirt with a full day ahead of me.
Maybe I should have gone to A&E but I was heading to Taranaki for our province’s Golden Jubilee and the prospect of hospital waiting times and missed flights didn’t thrill me.
With a name that is regularly misspelt as Die Hard’s Bruce Willis, I also felt that I just needed to toughen up a bit, just like my Hollywood near namesake.
So I got to the airport, paid the fare and made a bee line to Air NZ’s Koru lounge to sort the damage out as best I could.
The cut and bruising to my nose and forehead remained for all to see but soap and warm water put paid to most of the blood. A quick coffee gave a little relief to a sore head and a stiffening neck and I still made the flight. After landing in New Plymouth and a lot of funny looks at a rather beaten up Feds President, it was time for some running repairs.
I popped into Unichem Ducks Pharmacy in Inglewood and they were marvellous.
They dispensed some pain killers, a few more tissues for the blood and recommended Thin Lizzy to hide some of the damage.
Never in my days did I think I would wear makeup but the show must go on because I was speaking alongside Energy and Resources Minister, Simon Bridges, Green MP Gareth Hughes and Trade Minister Tim Groser.
The Green’s Gareth Hughes used a verbal concealer since their plan to ditch the world’s most stringent Emissions Trading Scheme for a Carbon Tax wasn’t mentioned.
With Labour scratching the immigration sore ahead of the General Election, the Green’s are seemingly hitting their farming button.
This may reflect the pressure they’re facing from the Mana-Internet hookup.
Stranger bedfellows I have never seen but it is hellishly clever branding.
Just as the word Green provides a cuddly cloak, covering up less than cuddly policies, the Mana-Internet Party is even more left wing but in the smart dress down clothes of a programmer.
All will be fine until Internet Party’s leader and spin doctor are publicly put on the spot with a highly technical question, like the relative merits of Dual stack, 6rd, DS light, 4RD, MAP-T, MAP-E.
That’s when the cynical branding will be revealed for what it is.
Meanwhile, the Green’s rhetoric around agriculture maintains the illusion that agriculture is not in the ETS when we most definitely are.
From fuel to electricity to the famous number eight wire, all farming inputs are covered by the current ETS.
While surrender obligations for farm biological emissions have been deferred, what Victoria University’s Professor Martin Manning told the Science Media Centre should be noted: “Agricultural emissions increased over 2009 – 2012 due to more export of dairy products. However, the longer term trend shows our CO2 emissions are increasing by more than those of methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture ... substantial reductions in CO2 emissions are more important than changes in the other greenhouse gases.”
While biological emissions account for half of our emissions, that “more export” means we send offshore some 90 percent of the food we produce.
There’s no free lunch because any Carbon Tax price would likely find its way into the retail price of milk among other staples.
The targeting of farming also denies the reality that New Zealand agriculture has been cutting emissions in each unit of agricultural output by 1.3 percent each year. We’re also world leaders in agricultural greenhouse gas research. This makes a strange combination the Green’s view of farming as both fall-guy and cash cow.
Penalising our farmers for being the world’s most carbon efficient will not only reduce production and jobs but push production offshore to more carbon heavy farmers.
Now where’s the global or local benefit in that?
While the Green’s say sheep and beef biological emissions will be initially excluded that’s an all-too obvious sweetener. In a Carbon Tax, sheep and beef farmers would still pay what they are paying now under the ETS and making them pay later for biological emissions is as simple as turning the regulatory knob.
Yet the reference to the cost of this economy of drought will stick in the craw of farmers who have been stung by Green Party opposition to rainwater storage.
That includes the sheep and beef sector who are looking to water storage to reduce climate risk and improve business and farming models.
The differential tax treatment for biological emissions they propose may reflect that the Greens are starting to understand our farming system is world-leading in low carbon protein production.
It is a pity they’re not yet ready to admit it.
Bruce Wills is Federated Farmers President