The government's determination to push back the entry of agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) shows a double standard in National's supposed commitment to fiscal austerity, says Labour's Climate Change spokesperson Moana Mackey.
"A government consultation paper on proposed changes to the ETS, which recommends agriculture be exempt until 2018, allows the sector an extended tax break, compliments of the tax payer.
"If it suits business and National's sectarian interests, the rationale seems to be that 'it's money well spent," Moana Mackey said.
"National has put itself on a pedestal by talking up fiscal austerity. Surely a further subsidy to the agriculture sector will be recognised as making little economic sense.
"The fact is delaying the entry of agriculture to the ETS from 2013 to 2015 will cost up to half a billion dollars.
"That speaks volumes about National's priorities. The agriculture sector remains our biggest emitter. That's a reality the industry is working to mitigate, but the taxpayer cannot continue to pick up the cheque until science stops cows emitting methane.
"John Key admitted in 2009 that progress on the ETS was not a death knell for the agriculture sector.
"New Zealand remains one of the worst greenhouse gas polluters per capita. While our total emissions may look small, we should push ahead with a proactive domestic emissions strategy.
"Instead, we have a novice Climate Change Minister, boasting about his contributions to 'the international climate change puzzle' with little or no understanding of the process of reducing domestic emissions. All the while plans for lignite mining in Southland are progressing and could see greenhouse gas emissions increase by up to 20 per cent.
"Frankly I'm left puzzled," Moana Mackey said. "Economic and environmental priorities are moving targets for this government."
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