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Govt recycling shows it's in the Greens' shadow

Govt recycling shows it's in the Greens' shadow on solar

The Government has demonstrated its commitment to recycling by trying to spin last year's Budget funding increase for solar water heating as a new initiative, says Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Ms Fitzsimons pointed out in her Budget speech this afternoon that the day after the Green Party's solar water heating plan was launched, Energy Minister Trevor Mallard trumpeted that the Government's own solar scheme had had its funding doubled - from $200,000 to $400,000.

"Mr Mallard essentially announced that two peanuts were to become four peanuts; from almost nothing to twice almost nothing," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Mr Mallard's media release tried to shade out the Greens by making it appear that the Government has just pumped up its own solar initiative. But it carefully spun the fact that their measly funding has not changed since the previous Budget.

"Despite their efforts to make it appear otherwise, Labour is in the Greens' shadow because it is clearly bereft of new ideas on how to move New Zealand towards a sustainable energy future."

On 26 May 2005, Trevor Mallard put out 'Solar water heating increasing in NZ - Mallard', which stated "Funding for 2005-06 will increase to $400,000, compared to $200,000 when the full scheme started in 2003-04". On 23 May 2004, his predecessor, Pete Hodgson, put out 'Energy efficiency funding for healthier homes and solar water heating', which stated "Funding to encourage greater use of solar water heating is doubling to $400,000".

"What has actually been spent of last year's budget? Have they under spent? Or does this year's announcement amount to saying that this year there will be no change in this pitiful commitment to the energy of the future?" asked Ms Fitzsimons in Parliament this afternoon.

"New Zealand will have to deal with climate change and Peak Oil eventually, the challenge is to do it without going nuclear or burning coal. A strong Green vote this year will give us the numbers to inject the much-needed sustainable energy ideas and vision that are needed by a Labour-led Government," she said later.

The Greens' solar initiative, which has received strong support from a number of energy industry and environment groups and experts, would set a competitive tender to supply and install 500,000 solar water heating panels over five years, with the price saving, expected to be at least a third, being passed on to households. Such a move would also build the solar industry sustainably and provide security of quality and of work for newly trained installers. It is part of the Greens' comprehensive energy policy, available at http://www.greens.org.nz/campaigns/energy.

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