06 July 2012
Doing our fair share on climate change
In this edition of Key Notes, I talk about changes to New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme designed to balance our environmental responsibilities with our economic opportunities, our action plan to reduce crime, and the expansion of the social workers in schools programme.
Balancing our environmental responsibilities with our economic opportunities
This week, we announced changes to New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to ensure New Zealand remains competitive with our international trading partners. We're committed to moving our economy towards a lower-carbon future, but we won't be doing this at the expense of Kiwi jobs, businesses, exporters, and households.
Our amendments to the ETS ensure we will continue to do our fair share internationally, while easing the pressure on Kiwis. When we first came into Government in 2008 National halved the cost of the ETS on families and businesses. We've extended these transitional measures because of the uncertain economic times we're facing. New Zealand is still the only country outside Europe to have a comprehensive ETS in place, and we're on track to meet our Kyoto obligations for 2008-12. We will continue doing our fair share, but we're not going to load more costs onto households, and disadvantage our exporting businesses.
We've made four main changes which you can read about here. One of these is to defer the obligation of agriculture to enter the scheme in 2015. No country in the world has put a price on biological emissions from agriculture. But we are making progress towards lower emissions from agriculture. We established the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, and now scientists from 36 member countries are working to tackle agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. We've also invested heavily in new technologies that make it easier to reduce emissions.
Reducing crime - our action plan
On Tuesday I announced the first of the Government's action plans to help deliver our ambitious public service targets. The 'Reducing Crime and Reoffending Result Action Plan' outlines the actions that our Justice system will be taking to achieve our targets that will reduce crime and reoffending.
By 2017 we want to see the crime rate reduced by 15 per cent, the violent crime rate by 20 per cent, the youth crime rate by 5 per cent, and the reoffending rate by 25 per cent. We've overseen the lowest crime rate in 30 years, and we want to build on this progress.
Our better public services targets, which I announced last week, are ambitious targets that we expect the public service to achieve over the next five years. Delivering better public services within tight financial constraints is one of the National-led Government's four priorities for this term.
From my diary
On Tuesday we delivered on another of our election policies, with the expansion of the social workers in schools programme. From the beginning of next term, 50 more social workers will be working in schools in the upper North Island. We committed to phase in qualified social workers in all decile 1-3 schools by 2013.
Today I'm in Australia for a short visit to Sydney and Melbourne. Last night I delivered the annual John Howard Address to the Menzies Institute.
While I'm here, I'm also taking time to meet representatives of the four major Australian banks, and business groups with interests in New Zealand. Australia is our largest trading and economic partner, so it's important that we continue to work closely together on issues that affect both our countries.