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Q+A Review: Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett revealed

By   /  April 28, 2016  /  24 Comments

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TVNZ’s Q+A on Sunday 24 April featured an interview with Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett. Her responses were further evidence that National was increasingly unable (or unwilling) to cope with the growing threat of climate change.

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70 percent pure NZ

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TVNZ’s Q+A on Sunday 24 April featured an interview with Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett. Her responses were further evidence that  National was  increasingly  unable (or unwilling) to cope with the growing threat of climate change.

Posing a series of surprisingly incisive questions and follow-ups, the ever-youthful-looking Jack Tame held Minister Bennett to account in a way that few other interviewers have done;

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paula bennett - climate change - Q+A - 24 april 2016

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Up untill now, Jack Tame’s presence in the US focused mainly on the theatrics of the  Hollywood entertainment industry or the equally-theatric Presidential primaries. They were for the most part light, breezy stories – even with the increasingly bizarre and somewhat menacing nature of the rise and rise of  Lex Luthor Donald Trump, as the potential Republican candidate.

However, on this occassion,   Tame’s Q+A interview was a masterful deconstruction of Minister Bennett’s waffle, revealing  how woefully unprepared for Tame’s skillful probing she really was.

As the thirteen minute segment progressed, it rapidly became apparent that, aside from platitudes and rhetoric,  Bennett had no real answers or  any actual, meaningful commitment to addressing New Zealand’s increasing emissions of  greenhouse-gas pollution of our atmosphere. It was as it she were still Social Welfare Minister, patiently explaining how National would be “helping” solo-mums with contraception, all the while sounding like an overly-concerned, benevolent, tough-loving  nana.

In fact, not since 2 May 2015 – when Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga was interviewed and demolished by seasoned interviewer, Lisa Owen, on TV3’s The Nation – has a government minister had their ineptitude so publicly paraded for the entire country to witness (if they so decided to tune in on a Sunday morning, at 9am.

Unfortunately, we should not be surprised that National is luke-warm on the looming crisis of climate change. Despite making very clear promises, National has broken one of it’s prime committments to the Emissions Trading Scheme – to eventually  include agriculture.

The time-line to this act of duplicity clearly illustrates National’s early promises and then reneging;

13 May 2007

In a speech by  then Opposition-leader, John Key;

In particular I’m going to speak about the biggest environmental challenge of our time: global climate change.

The National Party will ensure that New Zealand acts decisively to confront this challenge.

The scientific consensus is clear: human-induced climate change is real and it’s threatening the planet. There are some armchair sceptics out there, but I’m not one of them…

… National is committed to growing our economy. Confronting climate change will be a vital part of the policy mix for fuelling that growth…

… In the decades ahead, peoples’ perceptions around climate change will affect the brand image of New Zealand and its exports. New Zealand must take credible steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or risk becoming a trading pariah…

… National will have policies that reflect the fact that living on a diet of carbon will be increasingly bad – bad for the world and bad for our economy. We will have policy that encourages ‘climate friendly’ choices like windmills, hydro power and tree planting, and reduces the desire for ‘climate unfriendly’ behaviours, like burning coal…

… National will bring all Kiwis – industry, energy producers, farmers, mums and dads – closer to a shared and well-understood goal. We need to be united in our pursuit of a ’50 by 50′ target.

8 April 2010

Prime Minister John Key rejects demands  to amend the  Emissions Trading Scheme before it takes effect on the energy and transport sectors in July despite calls from business groups, farmers, and ACT.

Key tells reporters at the launch of the Global Research Alliance’s inaugural meeting on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

6 June 2010

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith announces that whether or not agriculture comes into the emissions trading scheme  in 2015  will depend on technological advances and what other countries do.

9 November 2011

Environment Minister Nick Smith announces,

… It is not in New Zealand’s interests to include agricultural emissions in the ETS yet.“

2 July 2012

Then-Climate Change Minister, Tim Groser,  announces four amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme;

  • Keeping the ‘one-for-two’ obligation in place until after this year. This means participants in the scheme will continue to surrender units for half the carbon they emit;
  • Maintaining the $25 ‘fixed-price option’ until at least 2015, which caps the price firms will face if carbon prices begin to rise internationally;
  • Introducing off-setting for pre-1990 forest land owners, and allocating the full second tranche of compensation where off-setting is not taken; and
  • Leaving agricultural emissions out of the ETS until at least 2015.

20 August 2012

National introduces  “Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012”, which will remove agricultural emissions indefinitely, and will,

remove a specified entry date for surrender obligations on biological emissions from agriculture”.

National’s repudiation of it’s 2007 committment to include agriculture was complete. Despite a clear promise by our esteemed Dear Leader, agriculture was permanently omitted from the ETS.

As I pointed out in October 2012;

During National’s four years in office, they have broken several promises and the weakening of the ETS is simply one more on the list. It also further highlights  John Key’s ability to say one thing – whilst knowing full well that he has no intention of fulfilling committments, or will do completely the opposite.

An editorial in the Dominion Post, on 20 April, was no less scathing in it’s condemnation of National’s inertia;

The Government’s climate change policy has been a failure and will have to be rebuilt. There needs to be a fundamental change in the Emissions Trading Scheme, the subject this week of a damning report by the Gareth Morgan Foundation.  But other changes are also needed.

[…]

Bennett concedes, however, that the ETS was “not perfect”, and is now being reviewed. In fact the ETS has been a fiasco. What’s more, it continues to cast its dirty shadow. 

The Government has banned the purchase of  foreign credits, but it could still use the bad credits to meet its climate change targets up to 2020.

It must not do so. Instead, it needs to revamp the whole scheme, starting by ending the subsidies it gives to polluters such as the oil industry. The “one for two” scheme introduced in 2009 allows businesses to pay only half the cost of their greenhouse gas emissions.

It also needs to reverse its decision to keep agriculture, which produces half the country’s emissions, out of the ETS. National argues that making farming pay for its pollution would be unfair because there is no workable way yet of reducing animal emissions and our export industry should not be penalised. 

Farmers, however, are not exempt from the country’s global environmental duties, and will also respond to economic signals – even if this is a pledge to bring agriculture into the scheme within, say, five years

Jack Tame’s superb interview on 24 April merely confirms pathetic National’s track record on this issue and it now appears that  Minister Bennett will simply follow in the footsteps of her do-nothing-predecessors, Ministers Smith, Groser, et al.

Bennett certainly has no intention of adopting any of the bold, radical – but much-needed – policies as advocated by Professor Jim Skea, co-chairperson of the IPCC Working Group III, and interviewed by Radio NZ’s Kathryn Ryan on 27 April;

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How do we wean ourselves off fossil fuel - Radio NZ - Kathryn Ryan - Prof Jim Skea - IPCC

(alt. link)

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Listen to the two interviews and judge for yourself which person is seriously committed to combating climate change – and which person is a politician who has plenty of empty platitudes to offer, but little else.

In her previous role as Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett had much to say about welfare-fraud.

Her empty words on  addressing climate change is a fraud on a much grander, and ultimately vastly more destructive,  scale.

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Postscript1: Memo to TVNZ

Jame Tame’s interview with Minister Bennett reveals a young man with considerable journalistic skills. He should be given every opportunity to make full use of his under-utilised talents.

TVNZ (and TV3) should maximise the talents of their journalistic and production staff by shifting Q+A and The Nation to prime time viewing slots during the early evening.

Why hide excellence early on weekend mornings, where it is not easily appreciated and valued by the general public?

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Postscript2: Memo to Paula Bennett

Ms Bennett, your performance on 24 April was a dismal failure. You are either unwilling to seriously confront the challenges of climate change or, apparently, you are in way over your head on this issue.

Either way, you should resign your Climate Change portfolio. This job is too important to be left to your glib inanities.

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References

TVNZ: Q+A – Climate Change Paris Agreement signed

NZ Herald: NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions soar

Fairfax media: Beneficiary contraception plan ‘intrusive’

Scoop media: John Key Speech – Climate Change Target

NZ Herald: ETS changes ‘unlikely’ despite pleas

NBR: ETS may exclude agriculture – Climate Change Minister

Interest.co.nz: National would phase in ETS obligations for transport, electricity, industrial sectors; Will review Agriculture in 2014

Beehive.co.nz: Government announces ETS amendments

Parliament: Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012

Dominion Post: Editorial – Big changes are needed in the Government’s climate change plan

Radio NZ: How do we wean ourselves off fossil fuel ? (alt. link) (audio)

Previous related blogposts

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012 – environment

John Key – more pledges, more broken promises?

As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

National ditches environmental policies

ETS – National continues to fart around

Dear Leader – fibbing again?!

National – what else can possibly go wrong?!

National’s moving goalposts on climate change targets

“The Nation” reveals gobsmacking incompetence by Ministers English and Lotu-Iiga

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24 Comments

  1. e-clectic says:

    Yet again, great work Frank.
    This inaction and sabotage has been going on for some time.
    Watch Alister Barry’s Hot Air to get an understanding of who has been blocking action on climate change in New Zealand as our emissions grow. It has certainly not been because of a lack of recognition of the issue.

  2. e-clectic says:

    In the interview, I fell off my chair when I heard Bennett’s use of “Hyperbole”, yep hyperbole as hyperbowl. Feeling so proud.

    • mary_a says:

      @ e-clectic. But … but … surely we are blessed to have such intelligent, articulate MPS don’t you think?

  3. Blake says:

    Thanks Frank – good job ( as usual ) — love the cartoon.
    Makes me feel so secure knowing someone like Paula Bennett is representing us about Climate Change. The way she stumbled over her tongue several times in this interview and clearly it was ” over her head ” with her limited background and knowledge of the whole issue. She was not grounded and strong but felt very nervous and just plain not in her comfort zone. Why ? Because her lying idiot of a leader dumped this ( out of her league ) portfolio on her when she had practically no background or very much knowledge in this area. Yep just makes us feel so secure knowing someone like her is in charge of NZ’s relationship with climate change.
    Our clean and green image should be all cleaned up under her command – hey and if you believe that, we have some land/homes for sale near the fracking zones that should bring a great return.

    Just saw this powerful docu yesterday and thought it should be passed on about fracking and oil in California. CA. Governor Jerry Brown is a major disappointment. Well worth seeing and passing on.

    https://www.rt.com/shows/documentary/341073-california-oil-gas-producer/

    • Blake says:

      The link above will not get you to see the docu. — I just found out that it is hard to see it due to copyright issues. I am trying to get up a link that will work. This is a very powerful docu about fracking and how a past green and ethical governor has sold out to Big Oil.

  4. Words says:

    Another excellent article Frank!!

    yes, the fact is, the Key National government abandoned the Kyoto protocol and refused to take part in it anymore. I thought Bennett could have been pulled up over that. These so called agreements are nothing more than pr stunts because unless ratified and committed to by all, it’s never going to work, as history has already shown. Bennett doesn’t even know when NZ will ratify the agreement and therefore shows a lack of commitment on the National government’s part. Bennett seemed more star struck on who was there signing the Paris agreement than the content of the agreement itself. She blabs on about having a huge opportunity to make a real difference, but then admits that the major target of the Paris agreement will not be easy for NZ to reach, and saying what she might do for their 2020 target was a joke, National won’t even be in government by then. Typical Crosby Textor electioneering line there that doesn’t wash. National have been in power for almost 8 years now, and our emissions haven’t improved or changed at all. Bennett contradicted and lied her way thought the interview. I thought Jack Tame did very well indeed. I was surprised because he’s TV One, which I no longer watch anymore.

  5. esoteric pineapples says:

    Given that the destruction wrought by climate change is going to make World War II look like small fry, I think all leading politicians in New Zealand and elsewhere who don’t do something about it now should be tried for crimes against humanity and the planet at some future date.

  6. gastarbeiter says:

    It was bad enough when Bennett was denigrating and demolishing beneficiaries with a complete lack of compassion. At least she had some ‘experience’ though she wasn’t letting that get in her way. Now she is completely out of her depth and her lack of basic intelligence – and vocabulary – is even more dangerous.

  7. Grant says:

    Could not have summed up the whole dismal incompetent train wreck of an interview and it’s ramifications better myself.
    One of those so called ‘businessmen’ ‘panel people’ on ‘The Nation ‘ I think it was , a couple of weeks back said that Labour must look across at “the formidable National Party caucus when in Parliament and shake in their boots”.
    Have you ever heard such a load of sanctimonious crap in all your life?
    They might be shaking, but it would be with anger at Nationals ineptitude and the speed at which they are trashing this country !!!

  8. Pedro says:

    Superb work yet again Frank.

    We might not see too much more of Jack Tame in an interviewers role. Establishment cant have some young upstart exposing them for the rhetoric inflated fools they really are.

  9. CLEANGREEN says:

    “Climate Change Minister Nick Smith announces that whether or not agriculture comes into the emissions trading scheme in 2015 will depend on technological advances and what other countries do”.

    Yeah right! We were a world leader and now a world follower?

    Come on Nick, you used to be savy once ass a young Nat in the 1986’s and went against the party when you followed your environmental care of nelson so do the right thing and do this now with the Nat party and holler for real climate change policy NZ can again be proud of by first at least stop Government Ministers like English and Joyce who are scheming now by closing all rail down.

    Help us to get rail going again as it will lift our carbon reduction game by lowering truck freight use which will reduce our 45% transport emissions of carbon in half using rail freight, Kiwirail have said and are screaming out now for Government to help them with this.

    Nick; Tap on Keys shoulder on this!

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/79340968/kiwirail-dream-of-being-profitable-is-unlikely-says-prime-minister-john-key

    “KiwiRail ‘dream’ of being profitable is unlikely says Prime Minister ”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/79346487/kiwirail-woes-explained–how-did-it-come-to-this

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11629237

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1604/S00422/let-kiwirail-compete-for-road-dollars.htm

    http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/business/kiwirail-report-paints-grim-picture-for-future/

    Northern Advocate
    Mr Tarseal
    “Joyce sees road ahead of rail”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503450&objectid=11623010

  10. Mike in Auckland says:

    Frank, thank you for your great piece here, as Jack Tame is not as tame as some of us thought, he can be a great interviewer, when he wants to be. He clearly seems to have a dim view of Paula Bennett, no surprises to us, as he asked her about stuff she hated to be asked about.

    We need more media people and interviews like this, confronting government and opposition, as this will improve our media and political discussion. At long last, at least at times, TVNZ seem to be doing their job. I may add that piece about Key and the former lawyer of his, who administers a trust that the Panamanian firm under controversy has listed.

    If this does not prove that Key is right in the midst of the tax evasion business, including Kiwi trust business, I think we may as well call the earth as being flat again, due to “scientific evidence”.

  11. Mike in Auckland says:

    “Postscript1: Memo to TVNZ

    Jame Tame’s interview with Minister Bennett reveals a young man with considerable journalistic skills. He should be given every opportunity to make full use of his under-utilised talents.

    TVNZ (and TV3) should maximise the talents of their journalistic and production staff by shifting Q+A and The Nation to prime time viewing slots during the early evening.

    Why hide excellence early on weekend mornings, where it is not easily appreciated and valued by the general public?”

    I ABSOLUTELY SECOND THIS!

  12. Afewknowthetruth says:

    At some stage in the not-too-distant future young new Zealanders will wake up to the fact that they are governed by incompetent fools and self-serving, mendacious arseholes -at both the central government level and local government level- people who are purely focused on looting and polluting in order to enrich themselves in the short term, and in doing so are destroying the futures of all young people.

    The planetary meltdown continues to accelerate, with the lowest Arctic ice cover ever recorded, and declining at a phenomenal rate.

    https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/vishop-extent.html

    This accelerating meltdown is a natural consequence of the extraordinarily high atmospheric CO2 level, which is increasing at an unprecedented rate.

    Daily CO2

    April 26, 2016: 407.41 ppm

    April 26, 2015: 403.64 ppm

    Government response? Lie and pretend.

  13. Mike the Lefty says:

    If National was honest (ha!ha!) they would just abolish the Climate Change Ministry because they don’t really believe in climate change at all. National treats the ministry not a whole heap different from Harry Potter’s Ministry of Magic – they pretend it really exists but it actually has no influence on their economic or environmental policies.
    It is just a showcase to pretend they are doing something that they are not.
    We shouldn’t be fooled.

    • Afewknowthetruth says:

      All policy is driven by the Ministry of Economic Development…..the ministry for looting and polluting. Every other department is subservient to MED.

      That reality became clear way back in 2007, when a Climate Change Roadshow toured the country to manufacture consent for carbon trading scams. Although supposedly under the Ministry of the Environment, it was actually a MED roadshow and had nothing to do with protecting the environment.

      Since 2007 the environmental catastrophe has ‘gone exponential’ and the level of incompetence, corruption and lies in government has ‘gone exponential’.

  14. Nick says:

    Paula Bennett was put in charge of Climate Change because she is a “superb communicator”. Like Key is praised for “how sensitive he is to the public mood”.

    Bennett successfully communicated that the government is peddling piffle where Climate Change is concerned. As for our ear-to-the-ground PM, I for one would like a Prime Minister who doesn’t start on the wrong side of every issue.

    Don’t hold your breath for Nick Smith. He sold out a decade ago, dating from his betrayal of his “friend” Bill English when he was rolled by John Key. (Followed by a bizarre melt-down that no one mentions).

    The effectiveness of Jack Tame speaks to the value of journalists adequately preparing for an interview. The evisceration of the fourth estate leaves the rump of “journalists” reliant on press releases and off-the-cuff interviews.

    Here is an idea to get worthwhile information before the New Zealand public.

    A daily panel discussion on RNZ morning report. Not of the Left / Right / “Analyst” type, but with three people who know their stuff, talking about the issues of the day. For one I would like to hear Brian Easton, Rod Oram, Bernard Hickey or Gareth Morgan on the Key lawyer / Foreign Trust business, or Scientist, Activist, UN representative on Paula Bennett’s performance, or three investigative journalists on the state of news reporting in New Zealand.

    We need to get away from the moral equivalency of “balanced” discussion. Some things are not balanced. The goal should be fact and truth, not some fatuous “balance” (which is never attained anyway) leaving nothing but an amorphous stalemate.

    Tame’s interview was not balanced. But it was revealing. Let’s hope he has the opportunity to carry on a good start.

  15. Priss says:

    Thanks for the heads-up on this, Frank. I watched the Tame-Bennett interview and describing her performance as FLOUNDERING would be an understatement. If Bennett is going to be the face of National’s climate change portfolio, the Greens will make mince soy-meat out of them!!

  16. e-clectic says:

    Another important question is when will the Minister for Climate Change Issues hold that portfolio alone?
    Is this not yet important enough to have a Minister give it full time attention?
    It’s time, well beyond time.

  17. Kim dandy says:

    Does no one in the national party have children? And if they do, do they realise that it won’t matter how much money their next generation has, if they are under water? Time they grew a conscience.

  18. Paul Judge says:

    Paula Bennett is just the symptom of a culture in complete denial. There are many examples of industrial development that can only be seen by those aware of the urgent need to address climate change as nothing short of mad. Is the culture that is driving expanded fossil fuel use insane, deluded, wilfully ignorant or suffering a collective form of extreme cognitive dissonance? For example, there is a proposal to build an inland port next to Waikato University and its surrounding residential area, a development that will increase large truck traffic and require industrial machinery running 24/7. Based on the economic projection of expanded population and consumption into the next 50 years and beyond, this development represents the illusion of the ‘business as usual’ future which, in reality, is discounting the future. The inland port is enabled through expanded road networks, laws which allow for ever larger trucks and the importing and exporting of ever larger quantities of cement, requiring the development of enormous holding silos at the coastal ports. This in turn is part of a larger machine of animal exploitation, both meat and dairy, and is designed to both feed and extract from what is the most intensive, polluting industry on the planet. This sort of shit is happening all over the world on a daily basis. Good luck keeping the temperature to 2C. Most scientists now are aware that 4C – 6C is locked in, thanks to feedback loops, by the end of the century. This will not be survivable.

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