Now, people may be scratching their head even after looking at those links trying to figure out what I’m talking about here. No-one used the word subsidise after all and NZ has strong cross-party support for free trade.
But excluding agriculture from the ETS is subsidising the industry. Why? New Zealand has taken on a liability based on the carbon it produces. By not charging the carbon producers on this basis the rest of the country is effectively subsidising the agricultural industry – we are being protectionist.
The counter claim is that “other countries aren’t applying charges to their agricultural industries”. This is the same as saying “other countries are being protectionist and as a result so should we”.
This isn’t the attitude we had in the 80’s when we wanted to lead the world in terms of free trade – why do we have that attitude now?