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Greens in Belgian government spur for NZ Greens

13 July 1999

The NZ Green Party believes the announcement today that the Belgian Green parties - Ecolo and Agalev - have joined with three other parties to form a coalition government will be a spur for their own election campaign.

The successful Belgian campaign focused on food safety issues (genetic engineering and the dioxin in beef scare), to deliver the two Green Parties 20 seats, up from 11, at the June elections. It is now the third largest group in the Belgian parliament.

"We intend to repeat their success," said NZ Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald.

"More and more kiwis are concerned about food safety, not just whether it is genetically engineered, but also what levels of chemical residues and additives are lurking in their food.

"Our 'Safe Food' policy sets out a clear timetable to transform New Zealand into an organic nation which will not only benefit our own health but also expand our markets overseas where consumers are paying a premium for certified organic produce.

"The Belgian experience tells us that voters want a party in government which is going to put the long-term health of people ahead of corporate profits," he said.

The Belgian Greens have four ministers in the coalition, including one of three vice prime ministers, Isabelle Durant from Ecolo. She's also in charge of the transport portfolio.

Agalev is represented in government by Magda Aelvoet, who takes on the consumer protection, health and the environment portfolio.

There are also three state secretaries including Olivier Deleuze (Ecolo, in charge of the energy and sustainable development portfolio) - Rod Donald met on his recent visit to Europe - and Eddy Boutmans (Agalev, in charge of the development co-operation portfolio).

European Green parties are now represented by 14 Green ministers in eight European governments: France, Italy, Germany, Finland, Belgium Georgia, Slovakia and Sweden (where there is a government accord between the Greens, the Left Party and the governing Social Democratic party). There is also a Green minister in Poland.

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