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National's conservation policy a funding cut

National's conservation policy a funding cut

National leader Don Brash's $7m promise to support community conservation is a joke, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

"It is classic National Party policy - a funding cut masquerading as a funding promise.

"Since 2002, the Labour-led government has spent more than $10m supporting community conservation on private land through the Biodiversity Condition and Advice Funds," Mr Carter said.

"In July, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced a new Significant Community Projects Fund, which makes available $32m over four years for significant community-based projects including conservation initiatives.

"The difference between Labour and National is that Labour has made these resources available for community projects over and above funding for maintaining the work of the Department of Conservation (DOC).

"National is making no such guarantees. Don Brash has refused to rule out cutting DOC's budget to pay for his irresponsible tax plan, and National's environment spokesman Nick Smith told the Taranaki Daily News recently that the party would pay for its private conservation policy by diverting DOC's funding," Mr Carter said.

"National's environmental policies are an embarrassment. They have nothing to do with preserving the environment or native species. Instead they are a collection of bribes to developers, big business and special interest groups, and no amount of window dressing like today's announcement will disguise that."

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