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$40 million "Peace Dividend" Amendments To Budget

Greens Push For Less On Defence, More On Social Services

The Greens will be pushing the Government to spend less money on warplanes and spying and more on social services during the budget estimates debate in Parliament this afternoon.

The Green Party will put up amendments to take $40 million out of projects in the defence and security budget and reallocate this "peace dividend" into social services, such as providing the emergency unemployment benefit for students over the summer.

Under the Green amendments, funding for the Skyhawks, the Waihopai spy base and the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) would be cut, as a first step towards phasing out all three.

"Continuing to waste taxpayer funds on these projects is perpetuating the archaic Cold War mentality," said Mr Donald. "Our proposals are fiscally prudent - reprioritising and spending the savings wisely."

The Green amendments would cut:
* $25 million from the air combat (Skyhawks) force
* $10 million from the Government Communication Security Bureau (Waihopai spybase)
* $5 million from the SIS

The money would be reallocated to:
* $17 million for the emergency unemployment benefit for students over the summer
* $5 million for improving nutrition education and monitoring for illegal GE ingredients in food
* further proposals to be announced when the budget debate resumes after recess

Mr Donald accepted the Government would probably veto the amendments but described them as "symbolic with meaning".

"We want to make the very strong point that the Government could deliver on social and environmental priorities by cutting wasteful expenditure elsewhere."

On top of the peace dividend amendments, the Greens are also hoping to convince the Government to increase its commitment to 'Buy NZ Made", by doubling the capacity of the Industrial Supplies Office.

"We are proposing that $450,000 be moved from a $33 million grants fund into the Industrial Supplies Office, so that the office can help deliver on the Government's job creation and regional development objectives."

Ends

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