Thursday, May 08, 2008

Climate change: doing the numbers on the ETS

The Maori Party has joined the Greens in threatening not to support an environmentally compromised ETS. Meanwhile, Peter Dunne is looking increasingly dubious from the other direction, while NZ First's support is lukewarm at best. The net result is that the government now has a serious problem with the numbers. They need 61 votes to advance the bill. Labour and the Progressives have 50 between them. With United Future and NZ First they'd have 59, while with the Greens and Maori Party they'd have 60. Either way, they come up short. Which leaves them either having to rely on National to get it through, or trying to get someone to cross over. And with National increasingly returning to type and not wanting to do anything, getting a majority which preserves the environmental integrity of the scheme is looking very difficult indeed.

I suspect the most likely outcome will be for the government to repeat the tactics it used to pass the Prisoners' and Victims' Claims Act, and use the threat of National demanding further compromise to force Green support. When push comes to shove, I think they'll hold their nose and vote for the government's crock of shit rather than risk a worse one being passed. And then, if they are smart and in a good position after the election, they'll come right back and demand it be strengthened in exchange for support. On current polling trends, the Greens are in a strong position, and could be essential to either party forming a government. And if they are in that situation, they should exploit it to the maximum. After nine years, it has become very clear that being polite gets you walked on. It's time to try some different tactics.