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Forest and Bird smiling after Cabinet announcement

9 December, 1999

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Forest and Bird smiling after Cabinet announcement

Contact: Kevin Smith (04) 385-7374 work or (04) 934-2473 home

Conservationists are smiling after the announcement of Cabinet portfolios today. Forest and Bird's conservation director, Kevin Smith, said Helen Clark and Jim Anderton had given the new government a flying start on the environment front, allocating key portfolios to Ministers known to be committed to green causes.

"Sandra Lee has all the credentials to make a fine Minister of Conservation. Her passion for nature is well-known and she was a member of the Forest and Bird executive before entering Parliament."

Mr Smith said a key challenge for Ms Lee was to secure increased funding for conservation in the coalition government's first budget.

"The future of the kiwi, kereru, kokopu and kauri are now in Sandra's hands. She will have our support as she tackles a backlog of critical conservation issues."

Forest and Bird also welcomed the appointment of Marian Hobbs as Minister for the Environment and Minister for Biosecurity.

"Ms Hobbs is less well-known to us but she has been a strong supporter of a number of green issues in the Wellington area."

"The linkage of the Environment and Biosecurity portfolios is extremely significant. There is a real need for New Zealand to strengthen its biosecurity capabilities and ensure they have a greater environmental focus. An early test will be whether Ms Hobbs will deliver on Labour's manifesto commitment to off-shore cleaning of used vehicles to protect the country from invasions of Asian gypsy moth and tiger mosquito, two of the world's worst insect pests."

Mr Smith said the appointment of Pete Hodgson as Minister of Energy, Fisheries and Forests also signalled major policy shifts in these portfolios.

"Mr Hodgson has been a champion of environmental causes from his earliest days as an MP. His performance in these key portfolios will be crucial if New Zealand is to have an environmentally sustainable future."

Forest and Bird was also pleased the Prime Minister-elect, Helen Clark, had stressed that there would be a strong emphasis on conservation and the environment across all portfolios.

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