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Inquiries not enough say the Greens

21 December 1999

Inquiries not enough say the Greens

The Speech to the Throne today showed that the government is heading down the right path, says Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

But Ms Fitzsimons said even though the government's three year plan would leave the country better off socially, she was unhappy that there was no concrete plan for action on pressing environmental issues.

"The Greens are pleased to see some of the burden lifted off people who have been really suffering under the last government's policies, like students and those on the minimum wage. But we would like to see more urgent action on relief of poverty for beneficiaries and unemployed students" said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ms Fitzsimons welcomed environmental initiatives which included more marine reserves, a royal commission into genetic engineering and a planned inquiry into the impact of climate change.

But she warned that setting up inquiries was the not same thing as taking action.

"Weather patterns are already changing, with increased drought and floods, and coastal erosion. There is mounting evidence that human-induced climate change is occuring. We're running out of time to sit around and talk about these issues."

New Zealand's greenhouse gases have risen faster since 1990 than any other developed country, and we still have no plan in place to meet the commitments we made at the Kyoto summit in 1997.

Ms Fitzsimons said that the Greens would cooperate with the new government by advising them on ways to attack the most pressing environmental problems, and would be pushing for a carbon tax to be included in a new tax regime.

"A carbon tax would support the measures the government has announced in energy efficiency and public transport," said Ms Fitzsimons. Pollution places a huge cost on society, and the bill should be paid by the people are are doing the polluting."

Ms Fitzsimons hoped that issues such as preventative health programmes and organic farming would make their way onto the agenda in the next few years.

ENDS


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