Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who funded the NZIER report IV

Back in January, we learned that Solid Energy, an SOE, has been subverting democracy again by using public money to pay for a report aimed at undermining the government's climate change policy. In a defence unworthy of a four-year old, they have claimed that they were not the only government department doing this - but refused to identify the other culprits. So, I've been using the OIA to try and find them.

The last of my OIAs has finally come in, and the search has been a total blank. We know it wasn't Timberlands, Mighty River Power, LandCorp or Transpower. Neither was it Treasury, Genesis Energy, or DoC. The Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Transport have also denied any role.

Who does that leave? Meridian Energy? Nope: "Meridian did not contribute to any funding towards the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research into the economic impact of the emissions trading scheme". The Ministry of Economic Development? Nope: "The Ministry did not fund NZIER's research which resulted in the above report". The Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry? Nope: "The report you referred to... was not funded by MAF. MAF has not received any briefing on the report".

In short, all the prime suspects, all the departments and SOE's most interested in climate change policy and most likely to fund research into it, have denied any role in the production of the report. So where does that leave Solid Energy's claim - made in a briefing to then energy minister Trevor Mallard last year - that the research was funded by "a range of companies and organisations, including government departments"?

I asked Solid Energy this. Their response to my OIA was that they did not know which other government departments funded the research. Which begs the question: why did they make the claim to the Minister? I'm expecting an answer to that in the next few days.