Green Party leader Russel Norman says New Zealand needs to redesign its economy to live within nature's limits, and get away from its dependence on get-rich-quick schemes.

Speaking at the party's annual meeting this morning, Dr Norman said a Green-led Government's spending would be comparatively moderate, and much of it would come from repealing expenditure on motorways and tax cuts.

While Greens have focused in recent months on proving their economic credentials, Dr Norman's speech returned to the importance of preserving the environment.

"Our environment is our economy... and within our lifetimes, a smart, green economy will be the only economy still working.


"There are so many sane, economic, self-interested reasons for a clean green exporter and tourist destination like New Zealand to fight to protect its natural heritage. And I am happy to argue for this on economic grounds any day of the week."

He said National was trying to grow its way out of structural problems by investing in risky schemes such as fossil fuels, asset sales and dairy intensification.

Greens would instead rebalance the economy by investing in clean technology and ensuring that state education was of a high-quality.

"Educating our kids isn't a get rich quick scheme, it's get rich slow scheme, an investment that is sure to last."

The party would be "courageous" in introducing a capital gains tax to encourage investment into other productive sectors. It would also introduce a price on carbon and temporary earthquake levy to help rebuild Christchurch.

Dr Norman said the Government had been short-sighted in giving out $14 billion in tax cuts in the last four years, mostly to higher income earners.

He was also critical of National's $12 billion investment in motorways.

"At a time of record high oil prices, the National Party is locking us into our cars. The IMF's most recent forecasts are for oil prices to double permanently over the next decade.

"There are smarter ways to invest $14 billion, like world-class buses, trains, and ferries, and by making walking and cycling safer everywhere. And we'd still have plenty of change left over to pay down debt."

Yesterday, co-leader Metiria Turei spoke of Government's failure to protect women and children, and called for a cross-party consensus on fighting child poverty.