Labour wants Conservation Corps back

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 10:32 04/08/2014

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Labour wants to bring back the Conservation Corps to get more young people into work.

Under the proposals, set to be announced by employment, skills and training spokesman Grant Robertson today, National's boot camps would also be scrapped.

About 1500 places on 20-week courses, for those aged 16-24, would mix conservation work with vocational training and confidence building.

The Conservation Corps was established in 1988 under then minister for youth affairs, Phil Goff.

By 2001 there were 100 projects across the country, including weeding on remote Hauraki Gulf islands, monitoring water quality in streams, whale rescues, and finding worms for kiwi at Auckland Zoo. Funding was cut in 2012.

The new corps could lead to a Labour-led Government partner with Federated Farmers or Fonterra to help get waterways fenced off from dairy farms to tackle runoff.

National established "Military Activity Camps" in its first term for youth offenders.

However, a Labour source said the boot camps have a 90 per cent reoffending rate and "just aren't working".

Wellington Central MP Robertson will unveil the youth employment package at the Salvation Army training centre in Christchurch today.

In unveiling the policy, it's understood Robertson will promise that all under-20s would be in work, employment of training by the end of the first term of a Labour government.

Under a "youth guarantee" thousands more training places for Maori and Pacific Islanders would be created.

Labour also plans to reinstate the minister of disarmament as a Cabinet position.

Disarmament and Arms Control spokeswoman Maryan Street announced the plan yesterday.

The position, created in 1987, was last held by Georgina te Heuheu, who retired in December 2011.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully incorporated the responsibilities into his portfolio.

"New Zealand once led the world with our anti-nuclear stance and promotion of disarmament in international forums," Street said.

A Labour government would also ratify the Arms Trade Treaty signed last year.

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