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More To Life Than Dollars - Greens

Green MP Sue Bradford today said Nobel laureate Yuan Lee's comments that quality of life should be a top priority were a welcome reminder that there is more to a prosperous country than dollars.

Ms Bradford said her attendance at the Knowledge Wave conference yesterday was brightened by Dr Lee's description of Taiwan moving from a doctrine of 'development by consuming the Earth' towards sustainable development.

"In a day where a dollar mentality seems to dominate, it was encouraging to hear someone talk about standards of living, a beautiful environment and the importance of learning."

Ms Bradford said in all the talk of how to encourage young professionals back from overseas, there was very little recognition of the student debt mill-stone which motivated students to leave and stay overseas for many years while they tried to pay it back.

"The more years that young people stay away, the more settled they get and the less likely it is that they will come home for good. Student debt is the first issue that should be addressed if we want to harness the energy of these young people for New Zealand."

Ms Bradford said she was angered by Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash's comments at the conference yesterday, suggesting radical change such as scrapping benefits for the able-bodied, scrapping the minimum wage, scrapping the dole, introducing a time limit on benefits and a lower corporate tax.

"Those kind of extreme market views have got us to the state we're in now - and the last thing we need is more of the same.

"The first step towards improving not just our economy but our quality of life in this country is to make sure that all our children and young people are safe, nurtured and educated.

"The kinds of steps that Dr Brash is suggesting would condemn even more of our children to poverty. It is a badge of shame for New Zealand that already so many of our children struggle with not enough to eat, ill health and unsafe environments.

"If we want to really improve New Zealand as a country to live in, the best thing we could do is to give those children a better start in their lives, so that they can contribute their talents to our economy, arts and culture when they are grown."

Ends

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