From Radio NZ:
The Green Party says the Government should help people to use less energy, not give them money to pay their power bills, as part of a new carbon trading scheme.Poor people, generally rent rather than own their own homes. While offering subsidies to make houses more energy efficient could work for people who own their own house, it is not a solution for people who rent. Unless the government ensured blanket coverage of a particular area, subsidising insulation and heat pump installation would lead to rent increases, and drive the poorest people who out of the newly warm houses.*
Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says if the compensation simply helps people pay their power bills, it will do nothing to reduce energy use.
Ms Fitzsimons says New Zealand homes are appallingly cold, damp and uninsulated - and that is where the compensation should be focused.
She says the amount that electricity prices go up by under the trading scheme will depend on the price that is put on carbon emissions.
The underlying assumption for the Greens is that the problem with carbon is an individual problem, and if each person just made some changes we could make a difference. My electricity bill was unaffordable so I regularly turn my hot water heater off for days at a time. I can generally make this work by using the hot water left in the tank carefully, and showering when I go for a swim. I have a small radiator heater, and don't use it very often. There isn't much give left in my electricity bill. Poor people have generally cut back the parts of the electricity bill they control, often beyond what is creates a healthy environment. I don't think it's our behaviour that has to change - it's the environment.
I'm all for the government regulating the housing market, stating that a a landlord must lag the hot water tank, for example. But penalising renters with a higher electricity bill, when they have no ability to improve the housing stock, is ridiculous.
What is even more disgusting, is in the nine to noon, Jenette Fitzsimons appeared to be defending delaying applying the scheme to sheep farmers, saying they could ill afford it. They can afford it far more than a family on a benefit, or minimum wage, can afford electricity increases.
* Currently I think the government requires no rent increase for a year after subsidised improvements, I think that is woefully inadequate, and just delays the effect.