Jul 6, 2008

Might it Suit Small Parties And National To Let Labour Carry Through With Threat To Make ETS Central Plank Of Election Campaign?

A sign of a Government losing its grip on power a loss of touch with what the majority of the population is feeling. Climate change is one of those issues. Thanks to Al Gore's movie a year and a half ago climate change was a really big issue for the electorate in New Zealand and in Europe. Labour sought to capitalise on this trend and refused National offers to forge a bipartisan policy response. Unfortunately in Europe and new Zealand climate change has dropped out of the top ten concerns. It happened in Europe late last year. But the trend was apparent in New Zealand by early in the year. Labour failed to notice this and as recently as a week ago the PM was making the threat - support us or else face an election campaign fought on the issue. We argued at the time that this could be the wrong strategy and today, Fran O'Sullivan adds further weight to this suggestion

Prime Minister Helen Clark's threat to campaign on climate change if her Government can't get parliamentary support to pass the emissions trading scheme (ETS) legislation could well backfire.
A major online survey finds the public feels most of the Government's efforts are going into tackling climate change issues and supporting families and children. But what they want the policy makers to focus more attention on, is the hot-button issues like the cost of living, the health service and reducing crime.
The TNS Conversa survey indicates the fault lines at this year's election will be based on hip-pocket issues and the respective parties' plans to address them. A factor that was brought home strongly last week by the extent of spontaneous support for the truckies demonstrated by New Zealanders.
Unless Labour comes up with a policy package to ease the transitional pain, Clark would simply be signing her Government's death warrant if she campaigns strongly on a scheme that will clearly have major downside impacts for most New Zealanders.

The online survey demonstrates people are primarily concerned the ETS will result in even more price rises. They are worried about how the scheme will impact on the economy and businesses, the extent of job losses, the speed with which policy makers plan to implement the scheme and the possibility that taxpayers will end up carrying the costs.
This presents an enormous challenge to a Government which has yet to publish any proposals for easing the pain at household level