Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Greens' plan lifts jobs, exports but costs $2.5b

The Green Party says its economic proposals would create 100,000 new openings for jobseekers. Photo / Christine Cornege
The Green Party says its economic proposals would create 100,000 new openings for jobseekers. Photo / Christine Cornege

The Greens laid out an economic plan yesterday that they say would generate 100,000 jobs directly and indirectly and create a renewable energy sector worth $8 billion a year in export earnings, but which would cost the taxpayer $2.5 billion over three years.

However, they say measures in their "Green Jobs Priority" package - such as a $1 billion a year earthquake recovery tax - would increase Crown revenue by $6.4 billion over the same period.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman said the policy's centrepiece was a plan to boost renewable energy technology exports by "creating incentives" for state-owned energy companies to work with private-sector partners.

Dr Norman said securing just 1 per cent of the global market for renewable energy "solutions" would create a $6 billion to $8 billion export industry generating between 47,000 and 65,000 new jobs, or up to 81,000 including those indirectly employed.

He believed the greatest opportunities lay in the geothermal sector where New Zealand already had considerable expertise.

The Greens would also spend an additional $1 billion on research and development funding over three years in a bid to develop high-tech industries.

Dr Norman acknowledged the plan was ambitious, the jobs would not necessarily come quickly and there would inevitably be some failures.

"Everything we back won't work but we can't simply be a dairy farm or a tourism destination to the world.

"That's not going to work. They are important industries but we actually have to have some high-technology, well-paid industries that export to the world."

The other big-ticket items in the Greens' package were a plan to build 2000 state homes before the Christchurch rebuild gets fully underway, at a cost of $670 million over three years, and the creation of a 3000-strong "conservation corps" to clean up rivers and control pests at a cost of $396 million.

But the package also contained details of how much additional revenue the party expects its other economic policies would generate for the Government.

Over three years its capital gains tax would generate $1 billion, its temporary earthquake tax would raise $3 billion, $1.05 billion would be saved by cutting spending on new motorways, $1.2 billion would be raised by ending emissions trading subsidies to the agriculture sector and an extra $150 million would come from increasing mining and oil and gas royalties.

But Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce dismissed all but a fraction of the policies as economically naive and likely to destroy more jobs than they created.

"They're proposing to raise a combination of new taxes and increased taxes, and increased imposts on businesses which is apparently going to raise $8 billion. That somehow is not going to cost the New Zealand economy jobs but in fact would cost massive numbers of jobs. The Greens don't really understand that."

Labour welcomed the package, with finance spokesman David Cunliffe noting similarities with Labour's policies encouraging state-owned enterprises to be more entrepreneurial and for increased R&D spending. But he had some reservations about the cost.

Direct benefits

47,000-65,000 jobs

Retaining ownership of state-owned enterprises and encouraging them to team up with private-sector "clean tech entrepreneurs" to develop renewable energy technology for export.

4000 jobs

Extending the Heat Smart home insulation programme to a further 200,000 homes over the next three years.
Cost: $350 million

3100 jobs

Building an additional 2000 state houses.
Cost: $670 million

3000 jobs

Creating a "conservation corps".
Cost: $396 million

3700 jobs

By "removing uncertainty over New Zealand's response to climate change", stimulating the planting of 65,000ha of new forests over 10 years.
Cost: $36 million .

- NZ Herald

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