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Greens kick off election year with conference

Greens kick off election year with major conference

24 January 2002

The Green Party is making an early start to election year with a national policy conference this weekend in the Green seat of Coromandel.

Starting tomorrow members from around New Zealand and several overseas Green will converge on the Kauaeranga Valley, behind Thames, to discuss and refine policies ranging from animal welfare to fair trade.

The conference is not expected to finalise all policies for the election but will set up a framework to develop and workshop drafts. A number of prospective new candidates will attend.

Coromandel is believed the only constituency parliamentary seat in the world held by a Green MP won under a first past the post type system. That, plus the New Zealand Greens' experience in Parliament, has drawn Green participants this weekend from Bangladesh, Korea, the Philippines and Canada.

"It demonstrates the Greens are not merely a political force, but part of a growing international movement," Greens Co-Leader Rod Donald said today. "The Green trend provides some hope in addressing the huge social and environmental problems the world faces, but there's a long way to go."

Mr Donald said he had mixed feelings about the New Zealand Green Party experience in Parliament.

"Green MPs have added value to the Government, with many social and environmental components added to coalition policies and budgets, " he said. "However we have yet to persuade the coalition to deliver on the needs of low income people.

"Also I'd like to see more done to encourage and support local businesses - Labour's `free trade at all costs' agenda is likely to hurt rather than help many small enterprises, including in the Coromandel".

The "summer gathering" comes less than a week after Ms Fitzsimons was unanimously confirmed at an electorate meeting as Coromandel candidate for this year's general election.

"Coromandel has been placed on the 'international map' but let's not kid ourselves as a country, and as an electorate, that we fully deserve the `clean and green' image," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"There are so many issues yet to address, for example of beach and estuary pollution. Surprisingly in the 21st century some of this is caused by sewage. We have yet to become serious about air pollution and climate

(cont) change, the destruction of marine eco-systems, while many land-based rare and endangered species continue to decline, mostly due to habitat destruction and introduced pests.''

The co-leaders said an expected boost to the number of Green MPs after this year's election would put "real pressure" on Labour to do better on social and environmental matters.

Ends

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