Opposition MP and the daughter of a Waikato dairy farmer Judith Collins has gone in to bat for New Zealand farmers, saying agriculture should not be included in the ETS. The Country's Jamie Mackay asks her if she thinks Kiwi farmers are getting a raw deal from the Government.
Mackay: Let's talk about emissions. Last week we had the report from the ICCC and agriculture is going to be dragged into an ETS. Is that fair? I know Simon Bridges said last week agriculture shouldn't be in there, but playing devil's advocate, why should agriculture get a free run here?
Collins: Actually I'll tell you why, because New Zealand, despite that everything we do contributes around 0.03 per cent of the world's carbon emissions. So instead of flagellating ourselves and you know, putting a hair shirt on - we should be saying "who are these big emitters?".
Well, the big ones are China, United States, India, Russia, all these big countries out there, happily belching away and we're poor little New Zealand with fewer than five million people.
And we have to deal with [the] evil old European Union and all the rules that they've always put in and tried to keep us out of things - all these things, all these problems we have and we go around trying to make our lives more difficult.
Well, I don't know about you Jamie, but I'd rather have New Zealand producing milk and dairy products and meat and wool than countries that don't take any notice at all about the whole thing and [are] just happy to put problems for us to solve.
Mackay: Reducing New Zealand's food production which might be the end result of the Zero Carbon Bill will mean either some people will go hungry, or perhaps more likely, other producers around the world will end up producing the food that we don't produce. But they'll produce it in a less environmentally efficient way.
Collins: Correct. And they will be running to the bank and laughing all the way there, and we fools will be paying more for the food that we buy from New Zealand, that's made in New Zealand and we'll have fewer people wanting to pay the extra prices we have to put on.
I just think that the Greens and Labour and New Zealand First have been happy to go and throw New Zealand farmers under a bus.
And as for Federated Farmers, if they're not on board with this - and I'm getting all sorts of mixed messages from them about it - they need to stand up for their people and stop giving in. You give an inch to these people you give them a mile. They will take a mile.
Mackay: But isn't Winston the great defender of the provinces? Isn't he alone holding this Government at bay and going in to bat for the farmers? I know you love him.
Collins: [Laughing] Well, honestly ... my father used to have a saying so I'd better not say it because this is obviously a family show [laughs].
Listen to the full interview below:
Mackay: Well it's a farmers' show. We can take a wee bit of colourful language.
Collins: OK, alright. What my dad used to say was 'he'd be all piss and wind' and that's pretty much it.
Mackay: I'm worried about the Greens in this Government, or the influence they're having. Although I was pleased to see James Shaw, who is a sensible Green in my mind, at least coming out and saying they'll have a look at some of these tools they can give farmers to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane. Whereas we've got guys like Gareth Hughes who want to put health and climate safety warnings on stickers, blah blah blah, at least James Shaw is speaking some sense. Would you agree with that?
Collins: Yes. James Shaw is obviously an unmitigated Green and used to be part of the very far left alliance and everything, but he's not an unpleasant person and actually nor is Gareth Hughes. They're not unpleasant people, they just believe the sort of mantra that man is all powerful and can do all sorts of things, and we shouldn't touch genetics.
But let's get real here. Every time we get a new species or something or a new sort of apple or whatever - people are using what we have in nature to make something better.
And frankly, why wouldn't we look at this? I just think it's nuts not to. Labour under Helen Clark were certainly willing to look at things but then of course it got all derailed by that Nicky Hagar person and his ridiculous book.
So I just think we have to be a little bit more open to different ways of doing things.
And I personally don't want to live in an economy that is just self-sufficient, and that's all you do, you just grow your own veges and you stay at home because you haven't got any electricity and you haven't got any power and you can't go anywhere.
We live in the modern world - let's embrace it.
Also in today's interview: Collins explains why Housing Minister Megan Woods is in her sights and "needs a bit of a tickle", and reminisces about where she was when the moon landing took place.