Russel Norman on Back Benches (ETS special)

The pub was packed last Wednesday evening, with a solid Green contingent supporting Russel! You briefly can see our table at the end of Chapter 2 when Wilber won a book about something or other.

You can watch the show at

I think Russel did really well – as usual there was a lot of overlapping points being said at the same time but IMO he came through clearly and robustly. I liked his closing statement 3/4 of the way through Chapter 4 about how we can choose to embrace the green economic revolution and be prosperous in the process.

He also said words to the effect of: The ETS is about deciding whether the taxpayer picks up the tab or the polluter. National want the taxpayer to pay the vast majority with the polluter paying a tiny bit, Labour pretty much the same but slightly more on the polluter, and the Greens would prefer the polluter pays more of it. (1/3 of the way through Chapter 3)

There was a really interesting selection of people who were interviewed, including Gareth Morgan. It was great to hear about the success of the Sustainability Trust‘s insulation scheme involving 1,200 homes.

Watching it on TV is quite different to being amongst the crowd – the cheers and jeers are hardly noticeable on the recording. Next time there’s an interesting Back Benches on, come and be there with us it’s great fun!

27 Comments Posted

  1. With the push to do away with MMP to another system of proportional representation, how do you see the need for the Greens to get localised and gain some traction in electoral seats?

    Gerrit, first point is that if this problem eventuates, it will be because we moved to a non-proportional system. None of the other systems mooted is anything more then slightly proportional. Just look at what they’re calling proportional in Oz.

    People are definitely thinking about it. Under a non-proportional system, which wouldn’t happen until 2017, I think you’d definitely see a real effort to win electorate seats. And there is acknowledgement that it may take several runs at it to do well, suggesting we should start sooner. Countering this is the cost in terms of resources and people and the risk of confusing the message that what we really need is your party vote.

    My prediction is that there will be no electorate vote campaigns in 2011, and that will be reassessed for 2014 depending on the result of the referendum.

    What is more likely a Green Mayor or Greens winning an electorate?

    trees, depends on the city, but I’d say mayor. Dunedin had a Green Party member as mayor, though she ran as an independent. And we’ll see how Celia does in Wellington very soon – she is also running independently, but has been on Council several terms as a Green.

    And I agree that the Greens are in a better position than ACT, though Gerrit’s concerns are real.

  2. Gerrit look at the greens UK and Australia results, and that is not under MMP.

    ACT is very unstable, greens are not + Charles Chauvel might take Peter Dunnes seat and Jim Anderton will leave parliament.

    That opens up space and shifts some of the current dynamics. Which leaves the 2 minor parties – Maori and Greens.

    Nandor always thought they had a lot in common. Can either be more than a support to National or Labour?

  3. The political system fails due to the number and complexity of issues and it is stupidly assumed that a vote for group A equals a vote for issues (a,b,c,d etc).
    MMP may be “more democratic” but it creates a situation where politicians can side step accountability by blaming the need to make deals (as John Key is doing with the Maori Party over Foreshore and Seabed).
    We need to move to a more sophisticated era under te tiritti (just kidding) where groups make arguments involving presentations and argument maps and we have an ongoing approval process where registered users click yes or no. Under that process you don’t belong to a party (as such) but take sides on issues.

  4. Robert. Heard that many times. Lately from orange roughy trawlermen. Hey if we don’t get it some one else will.
    Some body else said. “If their was only one of a species left, some one some where will demand the right to shoot it”

  5. Valis and BJ,

    With the push to do away with MMP to another system of proportional representation, how do you see the need for the Greens to get localised and gain some traction in electoral seats?

    This reliance on the 5% treshhold may not last the distance and in 2014 (when the country will be ready for another change) MMP may not be the voting mechanism and list only parties may not survive.

    How serious are the Greens in standing their top parliamentarians contenders in electoral seats?

    While Heather Roy went about it completely wrong for the ACT party, her underlying message that a political party cannot rely on a marginal electoral seat PLUS the list voting system, has some merit.

    Greens are in a more precarious position than ACT, though ACT would be gone next election if only National would put up a decent and active candidate at the 2011 election in the Epsom seat.

    So lets not get to far ahead in regards Labour not being in government without the Greens, lets get the Green members into parliament first.

    Then worry about a government with Labour.

  6. Labour will not be in government without us I think, and so we will have something to say about their environmental policies. Exactly right Valis.


  7. If re-elected what would Labour do re climate change?

    A good question for Phil Goff. Charles Chauvel may have a decent answer, but he won’t be making the decision, though he’s likely to be around longer than Phil. At least Labour are unlikely to form the next govt without the Greens, so the final answer will be better than what they’d do on their own.

  8. I think it makes more sense to gave an emissions reduction target and invest in clean technology, public transport and so on. We could do with education programes, scholarships to send people overseas to get leading educations in renewable energy in Denmark etc, and in time we could aim to be a world leader in renewable energy and clean tech manufacturing, rather than be known for dirty dairy.

    We need an energy strategy, and a long term economic plan.

  9. ‘cap and trade system with a sinking cap’
    In saying that Labour still does not have a 2020 or 2050 emissions reduction target.

    They don’t have a conservation minister at the moment either and are very vague on things like their policy in regards to coal mining and coal exports. If re-elected what would labour do re climate change?

  10. Also, the ETS was supposed to be a cap and trade system with a sinking cap, except the cap has been left out entirely. As bj has argued here before, the wealth transfers that happen are distasteful but acceptable so long as the system has the integrity of the cap. It was seen as the price to get those in power to go along. Except that they decided to have our cake and eat it too. So we need to decide what to do next.

  11. Trees… the first thing that would happen is that they would pay, not be subsidized. The second thing is the carbon cost they’d be paying for would go up from the subsidized rate. The problem is not that there is no way for an ETS to do any good… it is possible to set the costs and the responsibilities so that the polluter pays and pays through the nose. The problem is that this has been made an explicitly and obscenely backwards system by National. It wasn’t this bad when Labour worked it up, though it needed a lot of work. If we change it, the likelihood of subsidies goes negative.


  12. I asked – how?
    How would a modified ETS stop such thing happening? I don’t remember labour talking about how an ETS back then would stop such things. If an ETS doesn’t reduce emissions what is it good for?

    Looks like Solid Energy has found something it is good for:

    Solid Energy, is expected to get more than $500 million subsidies over the first 20 years of its carbon debt.

    also see
    Urea plant could get millions in subsidies

  13. What I said was a modified ETS could. What we might do with the ETS if we got hold of it is not something I think Solid Energy or the National Party would care to contemplate. Turn-about is fair play. They set the precedent.


  14. bjchip – How would an ETS stop giant lignite developments?

    At the moment the ETS may give money to such projects, and ETS costs will be largely covered by the taxpayer. The government (labour or national) always refuses to intervene with Solid Energy and its coal mining – calling it an operational matter or using the feeble excuse of..

    ‘if we didn’t mine coal and export it to China someonebody else will..’

  15. Russel Normans the man (I think), although his Tibetan protest was a stuff up as he shouldn’t have abused his parliamentary privilege advancing on China as he did.

  16. Yeah Back Benchers was really good fun. Our table were told by TVNZ to quieten down!!!.
    Its always great when John Boscowen is on the panel Its like watching stand up
    Anyway Greens, come and join us at the pub one Wednesday night it really is a fun night. Check out Wellington Central facebook page for details

  17. Trees

    It can stop it IFF it is modified. As National has shown, it is easier to change a law than to get rid of one entirely. The nature of the changes we should back if we were to have the ability to demand some, need to be clear to our potential dance partners. Dropping the ETS in favor of this would (I think) be best done as a 100% thing. That makes this easier to sell, it is revenue neutral, something we wanted years ago. The complementary projects may be funded by extra taxes in some places but are explicit and different from this Fee & Dividend notion. New name for our original ideas, but perfectly OK with me.

    I tend to hold with simple, single-purpose tax and law arrangements. This keeps us from suffering the legal confusion of a place like the US where vast “omnibus” bills riddled with special interest legislation are passed each year, with nobody knowing all of what is in any of them.


  18. Will an ETS stop this happening?

    2011 – pilot plants

    Lignite briquetting plant producing 65,000 to 100,000 tonnes a year for
    the domestic market
    Ad Feedback

    Lignite-biomass to synthetic crude oil, producing 10,000 barrels of crude
    and 5000 tonnes of char, a powered form of pure carbon


    Lignite briquetting plant expansion to produce 1 million tonnes a year for
    the export market


    Lignite to urea plant, joint venture with Ravensdown, producing 1.2
    million tonnes of fertiliser a year


    Lignite to liquids plant, producing 2000 to 35,000 barrels a day Solid
    Energy has an estimated 3 billion tonnes of lignite in Southland

  19. Well Hansen’s explicitly stated goal is to keep the world safe for his grandchildren, so no argument there. And he thinks we’re headed towards an atmosphere like Venus, so no one could accuse him of underestimating the size of the threat. So I’m interested in why you think his method wouldn’t work.

    One problem with continually raising CO2 costs is that it hits the poor the hardest. Investing in insulation, etc, helps, but because F&D is evenly shared, the poor benefit the most at least until the rich radically change their habits.

  20. I think I have made it pretty obvious in the past. Tax and use the proceeds for renewable energy and energy use reduction projects.

    The dividend going back to every one is a good way of stopping carbon taxes from cutting down economic activity. Which is many peoples main objection.
    However investment in sustainable energy and Green technology such as insulating houses will pay for itself further down the track. Instead of all the money being spent now. We have borrowed enough from our Grand children.

  21. So now that National have frigged the ETS entirely, what should the Green Party be advocating? Hansen and McKibben are promoting Fee and Dividend, which is essentially a carbon tax with the proceeds going back to each citizen. Hansen likes a 100% dividend, while others see reason to keep some of the funds for other complimentary climate mitigation or adaptation measures. A carbon tax has always been Green policy, and F&D looks like it may be the way to go. What do others think? A few info links here:

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