The Zero Carbon Bill is now the Zero Carbon Act. Green Party co-leader James Shaw spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay about the Act and how it is a shining example of bipartisan politics.
Mackay: Your Zero Carbon Bill is now, as of yesterday, the Zero Carbon Act. The Governor General has signed off on it. Now did the Nats basically swallow a dead rat in supporting you on this legislation, just to sort of cut Winston's lunch?
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Shaw: No I don't think that they did. They were very influential in the design of the legislation and that goes right back to last year when Todd Muller and I were working through the details of what it can look like.
They had a number of tests that Simon Bridges had set out at Fieldays beginning of last year and ultimately it met those tests, or met them enough for them to be able to vote for it.
But they, and New Zealand First and the Greens and Labour all had, I guess, a bit of a wishlist of things that they would like to see in the legislation that they didn't get and ultimately if you're looking for consensus you got to just admit that you're not going to get everything you want, but you've got to look at it in the round and say "well does this come close enough?".
And the fact that the Bill passed unopposed in Parliament – it didn't even go to a party vote – I think is an indication that actually we got it right.
Today the #ZeroCarbonBill became law! Thanks @GenZeroNZ for your extraordinary work that made this possible and @GovGeneralNZ Dame Patsy Reddy for officially making it the Zero Carbon Act. pic.twitter.com/bZyJqkO5eJ— James Shaw (@jamespeshaw) November 13, 2019
Mackay: Well there was one man who didn't vote for it and he wasn't in the House I don't think, David Seymour.
Shaw: Yeah well, he didn't vote against it either because he wasn't in the house, so that's right. He did say that he opposed the legislation.
Mackay: James, I like bipartisan politics. We need more of it in this country.
Shaw: I completely agree with you Jamie and I have to say ... I've worked – especially on these really big long term issues – where you're going to see multiple changes of government over 20 or 30 years and actually you need a consistency in public policy so investors can make long term decisions and so that householders and farmers and communities can actually plan.
So for me it was really important to do that. At the same time, it couldn't just be some lowest common denominator thing that didn't mean anything and that was always the challenge and that was why it was so hard, was to say "well it's got to be meaningful", but also it also really important that it is bipartisan and I'm delighted we got there in the end.
Mackay: I think people are on board with the 10 per cent reduction by 2030. That's achievable, but if we go to the upper end of the 24 to 47 per cent by 2050 you're going to drive a lot of farmers out of business.
Shaw: Well, people have been saying this a lot Jamie. That is with today's technology. You've to remember this is 30 years away. I think that if you look at the history of New Zealand farming and New Zealand agriculture we are amongst the most productive, the most efficient, the most innovative and the most adaptable in the world.
The reason why we were confident in proposing that range is because the biological emissions reference group that the previous National Government set up, which was an industry-led body, came back and said that effectively that range was likely to be doable – didn't say it would be doable – but was likely to be doable over that time frame assuming that the technology comes along.
But we've also built into the legislation sufficient review points that say actually if these things don't eventuate you've got the ability to tack and change and that's the whole point of having an Independent Climate Change Commission who can actually look at the evidence and provide a dispassionate view about how things are going – rather than a bunch of politicians - who frankly I think demonstrated through the process the need for an independent expert body.
Mackay: James Shaw - it is so refreshing to hear a politician – namely yourself, talk nicely about people on the other side of the House and in David Seymour's case, a political polar opposite and also Todd Muller. I think we need to recognise the efforts he's made in getting this legislation with you. So good on you, more of it, thank you very much.
Shaw: Well look again, I'm a big believer in credit where it's due and Todd did play a very significant part in this. He's a bloody tough negotiator I'll tell you that, but he's on top of his briefs, he does his work and he works hard.
Also in today's interview: Shaw praised ACT Leader David Seymour's work on the End of Life Choice Bill.