Act is entering its negotiations with National today talking about its campaign themes:
“three strikes” law and order policy, cutting government spending and dumping the emissions trading scheme.
All of which sends shivers down many Green spines. Act does empty bluster and noise better than most parties so I guess we’ll have to wait and see how many wins Key is willing to allow his junior partners.
We already knew that National would support a cut in government spending and tougher law and order policy (it’s hard to imagine that it could get too much more punitive than it already has under Phil Goff, but there you go). So those are easy for Key to agree to. But the Emissions Trading Scheme will hopefully be a sticking point in these negotiations for two reasons;
- While Act is rejoicing in its bizarre climate change views, National has moved away from that kind of anti-science stance and now agrees that there should be an Emissions Trading Scheme of some sort. National, which has worked so hard to capture the middle ground can’t afford to go off on internationally discredited tangents such as Act’s climate change denials represent.
- National has no credible plan with which to replace the Emissions Trading Scheme. It has opposed it, knowing that lots of its constituent vote doesn’t like the direct economic impact it has on them personally. But that does not change the fact that we have Kyoto responsibilities and liabilities. National has never articulated an alternative and has given the impression that its alternative would be, at most, be minor tinkering. We have a bill to pay and we need some mechanism, other than just increasing taxes, to pay that Kyoto commitment.
I think this issue is probably the most important one to watch in the next few days of negotiations between National and Act.