Stuart Smith
National MP Kaikoura

On Monday the government released their first three emissions budgets, which take us out to 2035. These budgets are based on the Climate Change Commission’s advice to get New Zealand to net zero by 2050. Next week the government will release their Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), which will be a list of policies that will map out how we will meet the first budget period from now to 2025. I deeply suspect that there will be a long list of vanity projects with money being essentially wasted as it was with the recent Government Investment in Decarbonisation funding announcement a couple of weeks ago. The funding amounted to corporate welfare, giving millions to companies to replace their coal boilers. These companies would have replaced their boilers anyway, as the cost of buying emissions certificates was such that they had to. The good thing about the Emissions Trading Scheme is that it finds the cheapest area to lower emissions, and that is why it is affecting the coal boilers first, rather than light transport.

That will be followed on 19 May by the reading of the fiscal budget, where Finance Minister Grant Robertson will outline the Labour lolly scramble for 2022/23. The proposed pumped hydro scheme at Lake Onslow in Otago is likely to feature in either the ERP or the budget, even though feasibility studies are yet to be completed. Onslow would act as a storage battery in the event of a dry year. Like the starry-eyed 100 per cent renewable target, I’m yet to meet anyone who thinks it is a good idea. So far, we have seen very little information from the Minister that proves otherwise.

Based on the information I have about the project, Lake Onslow is at the wrong end of the wrong island. Transmission costs in New Zealand are already incredibly high and in a dry year if we need to get electricity from Otago to Auckland, the average Kiwi is going to feel a pinch in their power bills.

We are in the midst of a period in politics which will shape our future for decades to come. Now more than ever we need sound economic management or we risk destroying our standard of living and a mass exodus of our best and brightest.

Stuart Smith

MP for Kaikoura. Viticulture, EQC.