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Labour offers environmental leadership

Labour
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Promoting public awareness of environmental issues and strengthening government agencies are key elements of Labour's commitment to sustainable development, says Labour environment and biosecurity spokesperson Dianne Yates.

"Labour welcomes the vital role government has as an environmental leader," says Ms Yates.

"The environment policy released today commits us to strengthening the Ministry for the Environment. It will begin actively promoting sustainable development and take the lead in developing a series of national policy statements under the Resource Management Act, in areas such as energy, Treaty issues, sustainable land management and tourism.

"Labour in Government will also expand the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, and refer all its reports to a relevant select committee so they are followed up."

Ms Yates says one of Labour's first priorities will be to rescue the Resource Management Act from the destructive amendments proposed by National.

"The RMA can be improved, but National's legislation threatens environmental protection while increasing costs. Labour will split the bill and bring back to Parliament one containing only the changes widely agreed as necessary.

"We will then begin some urgent research into how the RMA can be more effectively implemented. We will develop benchmarks for best practice by councils. We will also make a capped legal aid fund available to help interested parties join Environment Court proceedings.

"Labour will seek to reduce waste and pollution by moving progressively to ensure waste producers and polluters meet the full costs of disposal. We will establish a Waste Reduction Working Party, funded by a modest levy on landfill operators, and aim for a 40% reduction in the solid waste stream by 2010. We will also invest in and promote public transport."

Ms Yates says Labour's biosecurity policy, also released today, addresses the threat to New Zealand's environment, primary industries and people from introduced pests and diseases.

"Labour will substantially upgrade New Zealand's border biosecurity. We will require more inspection of high-risk imports and promote biosecurity education and visitor awareness. Within New Zealand we will give high priority to pest and weed control.

"As New Zealanders expect, Labour will also restore New Zealand's role as a world leader on environmental matters. Key issues for action will be greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring environmental issues are properly considered by the World Trade Organisation."

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