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First Green Party Bill in the House today

Jeanette Fitzsimons' Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill is expected to pass its most crucial stage in the House today, on its way to becoming the first Green Party bill to pass into law in New Zealand.

Amendments put to Parliament today will bring the bill closer to Ms Fitzsimons' intentions when she first introduced the member's bill in 1998, before a rough ride through select committee under a hostile National Government watered it down substantially.

"After prolonged negotiations with the new government, my bill will be amended to set up a stand-alone authority, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, responsible for implementing a national strategy and targets for energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ms Fitzsimons said the creation of EECA as a stand-alone authority responsible to a Minister was central to making the bill work. Since the EECA's establishment in 1993, it has struggled under a series of funding cuts, a prolonged and inconclusive governance review, and an unenthusiastic Minister.

"Without any kind of legislative foundation, EECA has been at the whim of governments which have blown hot and cold on energy efficiency since 1992. Statutory independence will restore mana to EECA, and allow the authority to do its job better," she said.

"The Authority needs to work closely with business, and it will have a governing board which includes business people. It will have a central role in our efforts to combat climate change and reduce other environmental pollutants, and will have a policy relationship with the Ministry for the Environment. It will have a social role in upgrading cold and damp houses which contribute directly to flu, TB, arthritis and to New Zealand's high rate of child asthma."

Under the bill, EECA will be required to advise and educate; collect and publish information; administer grants and loans; develop energy efficiency standards for appliances, buildings and vehicles; and monitor our progress towards energy efficiency.

The bill also requires a National Strategy on energy efficiency to be developed.

"This is intended to be a real grass roots process," said Ms Fitzsimons. "I hope businesses, communities, local and national organisations and individuals will contribute to designing a strategy that involves them in recapturing the third of our energy we now waste so as to build a better economy, a better environment, more jobs and a healthier society."

Jeanette will be available for media briefings in her office, Bowen 14:14 between 1pm and 1.30pm today.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661 or 025 586 068 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

Four important things Jeanette's bill does:

1. Is the first piece of legislation passed by New Zealand to address climate change, and brings us up to general OECD standards. 2. Gives the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority permanent status and functions after years of uncertainty and funding cuts.

3. Stipulates that New Zealand's first real national energy saving plan be set up, and provides a major role in this for local communities, businesses and sector groups.

4. Provides authority, for the first time, to protect consumers against wasteful household appliances, vehicles and buildings by setting energy efficiency standards.


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