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National caucus in disarray as leaks intensify

4 September 2008

National caucus in disarray as leaks intensify

The leaked environment policy from National is another sign the party is still divided and in disarray under John Key's leadership, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"This latest disclosure follows a string of embarrassing revelations by National's leadership and senior MPs over its previously secret privatisation and policy plans.

"There has been disastrous management over premature announcements in a variety of policy areas - including the plans to sell off Kiwibank, to impose $50 a week tolls, to ditch employer contributions to KiwiSaver, and to privatise ACC. Just this week John Key again looked very shifty when questioned over his meeting with British Conservative Party Deputy Chair and wealthy political donor Lord Michael Ashcroft.

"The leak of the draft environment policy is just another sign of a party still in a shambles under John Key. These leaks – that go back to the Hollow Men in 2006 - also show the level of internal frustration as backbench MPs are muzzled from speaking publicly on their policy areas, and kept out of policy discussions and decisions.

"My main reaction to this environment policy is that it should be turned into a Tui billboard: "National cares about the environment? Yeah right."

"John Key and frontbench MPs Maurice Williamson and Lockwood Smith don't even believe in climate change. So how can you trust them when they can't even understand the greatest environmental challenge of our time?

"The party opposes the Emissions Trading Scheme, it opposes big polluters paying for their pollution and it wants to protect its special interests – it's not interested in sustainable development. This leaked policy also suspiciously fails to come clean on National's plans to cut the public out of any input into proposed infrastructure projects in order to fast track them under the Resource Management Act.

"The party has also quietly ditched its flagship policy of a $1 billion Sustainability Investment Fund to pay for environment and conservation initiatives. There is now no sign of any funding for this entire policy. We can guess where the money's going instead - into unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthy," Trevor Mallard said.

"John Key's one innovation is to create another bureaucracy. Under his plans, he would create a new agency to duplicate the work of the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation. So much for smaller government."

ENDS

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