Plans by parties to use taxes to control the environment have come under attack by a NZ First candidate.
He took to loosely quoting a different Winston than usual – Winston Churchill – to get his point across.
“A nation who decides they want to tax themselves to prosperity is like a guy standing in a bucket and wanting to lift himself up by the handle,” NZ First’s Palmerston North candidate Darroch Ball told a debate at Palmerston North’s Hancock Community House on Wednesday.
The debate was pitched as a focus on infrastructure and the environment, but mainly focused on the latter.
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Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway, of the Labour Party, said people had to get away from the idea of balancing economic and environmental issues.
“There are no jobs on a dead planet.”
Doing so would involve managing the use of water – something Labour says could be done through a tax on water – and ensuring the price on carbon emissions encouraged people to get help with bringing emissions under control.
Green Party Palmerston North candidate Thomas Nash said people would be charged for their carbon emissions, with the money used to help people move away from emitting.
There would also be the party’s Taonga Levy on visitors to the country, which would provide funding to take care of the environment.
Ball said people could not look at tax as the way to solve everything.
He instead encouraged giving polluters a carrot, through incentives to decrease emissions.
The country had to work hard to clean up its act if it wanted to market itself as clean and green overseas, he said.
That could be done by scrapping the Emissions Trading Scheme, which would see $1 billion a year diverted into helping the country meet its targets.
“When you see ‘trade’ in the title of anything to do wih the environment, you know you are going down the wrong path.”
National Party Palmerston North candidate Adrienne Pierce said the Government could not save the environment on its own, and everyone needed to pitch in to make it work.
Having a strong economy would free up more money to spend on environmental measures.
“We have to have the funds to invest in the environment.”
Money Free Party Palmerston North candidate Scott Andrew said anyone looking to align economic and environmental issues needed to have a think, as the current economic system encouraged consistent growth, which could not happen on a planet of finite resources.
Automating more of the workforce would make production more efficient, cutting down waste and helping people move toward a more sustainable system, he said.