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Green initiatives major boost to eco-budget funding

The Green Party today welcomed the entire pre-budget Eco-2001 package of environmental allocations which includes a number of Green budget bids.

Green Party Co-leader and Conservation Spokesperson Jeanette Fitzsimons said the rollover and expansion of Green Party initiatives from last year's budget combined with new money in today's announcements showed the Greens were playing an important role in protecting the integrity of New Zealand's environment.

"We are really pleased that the merit in our ideas is being recognised and that funding is being allocated to bring these ideas into fruition," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"We are also pleased that Green environmental initiatives from last year's budget have proven to be successful and that these measures have now been adopted and funded as long-term and ongoing environmental projects."

The four initiatives are:
* $10 million over four years for a permanent conservation awareness programme;
* $100,000 to establish a set of national minimum standards for organic food production;
* $150,000 for a small growers organic development programme;
* $362,000 to survey two pest freshwater fish species to determine the feasibility of eradication.

Ms Fitzsimons said the $10 million for conservation awareness showed the original Green budget allocation was a successful and worthwhile project and she welcomed its expansion.

"A significant part of what the Greens are trying to achieve in parliament is raising New Zealanders awareness on the issues facing their natural environment and to encourage people to experience and enjoy it.

"It is only through experiencing and appreciating the natural environment that people will recognise the importance of conservation," said Ms Fitzsimons. "We are confident this allocation will significantly enhance the conservation effort in New Zealand."

Ms Fitzsimons said she was delighted with the package of measures for organics - which further develops last year's Green initiatives - which will take another step towards bringing organics into the mainstream.

Ms Fitzsimons said today's announcement was another example of the Greens working constructively with the Government in the interests of the environment and said she was looking forward to announcing more positive Green initiatives in the budget.

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