17 Sep 2009

Sharples admits misunderstanding over ETS deal

4:15 pm on 17 September 2009

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples has admitted he misunderstood some aspects of the negotiations around the party's support to change the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The party initially opposed an ETS, but on Monday signed up to National's amendment bill, to be introduced to Parliament next week.

Under the changes, the Government is to delay entry of agriculture into the scheme until 2015, and the entry of most economic sectors to July next year.

On Tuesday, Dr Sharples said a rise in the benefit rate to counter increased petrol and power costs under the scheme was on the table as part of the deal between the Maori Party and the National Government. But on Wednesday, he said the rise was only going to be an inflationary adjustment.

However, Dr Sharples said that under the deal, 2000 Maori households will get free retrofitting and insulation.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister John Key appeared surprised by the suggestion that benefit rates should be lifted, but Climate Change Minister Nick Smith acknowledged the Maori Party's concerns.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said on Tuesday she was not aware of any negotiations and did not want to see benefits increase.