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EPA won't get much in the budget, Labour says

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Brendon Burns
Brendon Burns

Wellington, May 19 NZPA - There will be little or no money in tomorrow's budget for the Government's new Environmental Protection Agency, Labour says.

"Finance Minister Bill English has refused to provide real funding for National's own environmental flagship policy," MP Brendon Burns said today.

"Currently there are a paltry seven staff employed in a unit within the Ministry for the Environment, one less than last year."

Mr Burns, Labour's spokesman on water issues, said he had answers to written questions he had put to Environment Minister Nick Smith which indicated there was little, if any, new funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the budget.

"Not only does Bill English not want to hand over the money; he wouldn't want an EPA with any teeth because he and the Government want new water schemes in place next year," Mr Burns said.

The answers to his questions showed staffing levels for the EPA had not been determined, although Dr Smith had said an expanded agency would be fully operation by July 1 this year.

"Here we are, at National's second budget, with the EPA employing just seven staff and a minister hoping his fledgling might now get off the ground next year," Mr Burns said.

His trumpeted commitment to protecting the environment has again been trumped."

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