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Green policy a vital part of Labour's vision

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Labour leader Helen Clark said today that Labour's green agenda forms a vital part of its vision for New Zealand in the 21st century as a nation whose high living standards stand alongside a strongly protected environment.

Helen Clark was speaking at the launch of Labour's policies on conservation, the environment, biosecurity and genetic modification.

"We want New Zealand's clean, green image to live up to the rhetoric about it. In environmental terms, we want to offer a quality of life which is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

"That means that the environment will take its place alongside Labour's commitment to economic growth and social justice as one of the new government's top priorities.

"Labour is proud of New Zealand's outstanding natural heritage, as all New Zealanders are. Future generations deserve to inherit what we enjoy today. That's why the last Labour Government created the Resource Management Act and the Department of Conservation - and the next Labour Government will make sure they not only survive, but are strengthened.

"New Zealanders expect to have access to their country's natural beauty and Labour is determined to maintain that. Too many back country and alpine tracks and huts have fallen victim to DoC's underfunding. Labour will urgently review their condition with a view to restoring as many as possible to a state which ensures safe access to the back country.

"The urban environment, in which most of our people live, also deserves greater attention from central government policy makers. Traffic congestion and its environmental effects are priority issues to be dealt with. Funding for public transport must take priority over what looks like the easy solution of building more motorways which rip the hearts out of our cities.

"Labour is also highly alert to the potential dangers to our environment. New Zealand's borders need to be better protected against introduced pests and diseases before it's too late.
Our threatened species must have a higher priority. Our remaining public native forests with significant conservation values must be protected and we need to do more to safeguard our marine resources.

"New technologies for energy efficiency and generation promise both environmental and economic benefits and Labour is keen to promote them. But we also understand that enthusiasm for technology sometimes has to be balanced with caution, as our policy on genetic modification recognises.

"Labour's green agenda is part of its wider agenda, which is about giving New Zealand a fresh start with a government it can trust. We will also deliver the international leadership that people expect from Labour, recognising that many of the environmental problems we face are global," Helen Clark said.

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