Labour and the Greens may have harboured some hope that the shaky "feebate" scheme which proposed financial subsidies for buying fuel-efficient vehicles could be rescued.
But after the weekend's drag contest between New Zealand First and National over which of them had killed the scheme, any prospect of the scheme surviving as Government policy seems unlikely in the short term.
The National Party tweeted that it had killed the policy, only for New Zealand First to super-impose its own logo on the National ad to claim it had actually killed it.
#WIN: National listened to Kiwis and fought hard against the Government’s punitive Car Tax. Labour wanted to slap you with a tax on a used Corolla to subsidise a banker’s Porsche. This back down is a win for all the Kiwis who made their voice heard. pic.twitter.com/xmHxfeeprs— NZ National Party (@NZNationalParty) February 21, 2020
How does the ‘National Party’ think they can really change anything when they are in the...opposition? pic.twitter.com/FBJkr2jcK6— New Zealand First (@nzfirst) February 22, 2020
The fact is that despite it not yet being officially declared dead, New Zealand First has blocked the progression any further of the Green initiative.
But it did so because National had managed to make it such a political hot potato particularly in the ute-loving provinces that New Zealand First did not want to be "blamed" for it.
New Zealand First blocked it, despite the Greens having accepted that farm vehicles would be exempt from the fees if there was no reasonable electric alternative.
There may have been some question about the death-knell if the NZ First tweet had been entirely the work of a backroom operative, but leader Winston Peters gave his personal endorsement with a "like".
"We are still holding out the possibility they could change their minds and see some common sense," Greens co-leader James Shaw told the Herald today.However Shaw and the rest of the Greens could be forgiven for wondering what Winston Peters meant in his post-election speech to decide the Government when he said his New Zealand First had opted for "change" rather than a "modified status quo".
It wasn't some hare-brained scheme dreamed up over dandelion tea in the Green Party offices.
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It was a policy the Greens had picked up from a Productivity Commission report, commissioned by former National minister Steven Joyce.
The scheme would have given a subsidy of up to $8000 on fuel-efficient vehicles, new or used, at their first point of sale, and imposed a fee of up to $3000 on gas guzzlers at their first point of sale.
Electric vehicles would have attracted the whole subsidy and others would have been determined by a vehicle fuel efficiency standard that was the companion policy to the "feebate" scheme.
But the proposal has had a bumpy road since Green MP and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter launched a discussion document in July last year.
National opposed it, labelling it a "car tax" that would penalise New Zealanders.
But one of National's digital ads was ruled misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority and ordered to be removed.
Bridges had a win of sorts on the matter when he received an apology from the Ministry of Transport for disregarding as "spam" more than 1000 submissions opposing the scheme sent from a website set up by National.
Treasury opposed the scheme, saying it would make a very small difference to emissions.
That prompted Genter to hit back and suggest on RNZ that Treasury was sceptical of whatever the Greens proposed.
But the Motor Industry Association welcomed the plan.
It was touted as part of move to lower net greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 – part of New Zealand's commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, attended by National leader Simon Bridges when he was Associate Climate Change Minister.
Transport is responsible for 20 per cent of domestic emissions, the paper said. Light vehicles (cars, SUVs, vans and utes) produced 67 per cent of transport emissions and 13 per cent of total domestic emissions.