New Zealand Listener 03.7.2020

(Barré) #1



(^) S
Winston Peters’ High Court claim last year against
officials and rival politicians for the leak of his
private pension details.
These may be mostly beltway concerns, but
they’re also niggly character questions for voters.
As President Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris
Johnson have proven, voters can cheerfully elect a
badly behaved candidate, even with considerable
ratbaggery “priced in”. But they prefer to know for
sure what sort of ratbag they’re dealing with.
Still, to distract us from the great mysteries of life,
we have plenty of equally confounding “knowns”
to be going on with. For instance, there’s abso-
lutely no mystery about why the electric-vehicle
“feebate” scheme is suddenly in no man’s land. NZ
First can’t bear to let the Green Party win anything
and is also desperate to out-National National in
appealing to the rural sector. Being seen to clobber
the Greens and ingratiate itself with the petrol-
guzzling, ute-driving voter is more immediately
important to the party than getting the country’s
carbon emissions down.
The scheme can easily be adapted to exempt the
many rural and provincial folk for whom the indis-
pensable Barry Crump land- and air-going tank has
as yet no green substitute. It could
be one of the Government’s most
popular reforms, but Peters’ caucus is
pretending it hasn’t heard any of that
for the sake of manufacturing a coup
over the Greens.
National’s headline objection
to the EV feebate is that, like the
Treasury, it doesn’t believe the Gov-
ernment’s assurance that the scheme
will be revenue-neutral. This is blar-
ney, because revenue neutrality, as
any seasoned politician knows, is the
Treasury’s tooth fairy: it doesn’t exist
but the Treasury still believes it might
and insists we must keep looking for
it everywhere.
National’s real “objection” to
this policy derives from basking
in a 12,000-plus-signature petition
from the four-wheel-drive devotees
among us, with whom it has curried
the impression that Green Associ-
ate Transport Minister Julie Anne
Genter will personally confiscate
their keys, whip out their kiddy seats
and dispatch their Hiluxes and Ford
Rangers to the crusher.
Still, National’s taking a gamble
here. Who’s to say that Grunty Van
Man, Remuera Tractor Mum and
Log-Towing Farm Ute Family aren’t
just as concerned as Genter about
emissions and wouldn’t be delighted
to trade at least one of the family’s
vehicles for a – newly affordable

  • Leaf?
    This ridiculous spat gives us our
    own special version of the proverbial
    politician mounting a tree stump to
    give a speech in favour of conser-
    vation: Opposition leader Simon
    Bridges, who drives his own (full
    purchase price) EV while denounc-
    ing the feebate scheme. l

NZ First can’t bear
to let the Greens win

anything and is also
desperate to out-
National National.
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