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National's Environment Policy – So What's New?

2 July 2002

The National Party is having to play 'catch up' to the current government in its environment and conservation policy, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

"The policy announced today is pretty thin, but what there is, is largely a vote of confidence in the direction being taken by the Labour-led coalition government," Marian Hobbs said.

"We're already doing much of what National is talking about. In this year's Budget we committed new funding of $26.5 million to promote a clean, green environment and $5.9 million for environmental education. There's also $20 million earmarked for key SILNA forest blocks.

"In our first Budget as a coalition government we committed an extra $187 million over five years for practical biodiversity projects.

"National is promising money it doesn't have to fund its newly discovered environmental concerns. It's even prepared to sell a significant public asset, Landcorp, irrespective of outstanding Treaty claims, for private benefit. That would be the effect of assisting the capital cost of irrigation schemes.

"Promising a Royal Commission on water shows how out of touch National is. We've got confidence in the abilities of local government, key industry and interest groups to clean up our environment. We are getting on with the job and working in partnership with regional councils and industry players like Fonterra and non government organisations to make a real difference.

"National's undertakings on waste are also an endorsment of the government's waste strategy which was developed over 18 months in partnership with Local Government New Zealand. One of National's newcomers, environmentalist Guy Salmon, wrote to me with his congratulations when the strategy was released.

"National's lack of awareness on conservation is exposed by its undertaking to have the Environmental Risk Management Authority go over 1080. We are already doing it. ERMA announced in March there were grounds for reassessing 1080.

"Finally, it's significant that, in their environment policy, National has ignored their former Environment Minister Simon Upton's flagship Resource Management Act. National can see the RMA only as encumbrance to business and seems prepared to sacrifice environmental protection and community involvement in the process."

Ends

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