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As of 2004 she is the Green Party spokesperson on Climate Change, Conservation, Crown Research Institutes, Energy, Environment, Fisheries, Genetic Engineering, Local Government, Oceans, Research, Science and Technology, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Economics and Transport.
Before being elected to Parliament, Fitzsimons was a lecturer in environmental studies at Auckland University. She was also highly active in various environmental organizations such as the New Zealand Biological Producers' Council, the Campaign Climate for Change (which she founded), and the Environmental Council. She also worked as an environmental consultant to many local authorities.
Fitzsimons' first entry into politics was as a candidate for the Values Party, an early environmentalist group. She was its energy spokesperson from 1977 to 1982, and stood as a candidate in the 1978 election and the 1981 election. When the Values Party merged with a number of other groups to form the modern Green Party, Fitzsimons became an active member of the new organization.
When the Green Party joined with several other left-wing parties to form the Alliance, Fitzsimons became co-deputy leader (with Sandra Lee holding the other deputy leader position). In the 1993 election, Fitzsimons unsuccessfully contested the Hauraki electorate under the Alliance banner. In 1995, she became co-leader of the Green Party (which remained within the Alliance).
In the 1996 election, the first to be conducted under the new MMP electoral system, Fitzsimons was placed third on the Alliance party list. She also stood as the party's candidate in the Coromandel. She was unsuccessful in the Coromandel electorate, but entered Parliament on the Alliance list.
The Greens contested the 1999 election as an independent party, with Fitzsimons and Rod Donald serving as co-leaders. Fitzsimons was placed first on the party's list, and once again contested the Coromandel seat. To observers, it seemed that the Greens' chances of entering parliament were dependent on Fitzsimons' performance in Coromandel - in order to receive proportional representation, the party needed to either gain five percent of the national vote or win an electorate seat, and it appeared that the former option was unlikely. When normal votes had been counted, it appeared that Fitzsimons had been defeated in Coromandel by National's Murray McLean, but when special votes were tallied, Fitzsimons had a narrow lead. This guaranteed the Green Party proportional representation regardless of whether it crossed the five percent threshold (as it eventually did).
In the 2002 election, Fitzsimons was defeated in Coromandel, placing third. The seat was won by Sandra Goudie of National. She remained in Parliament as the highest-ranked candidate on the Green Party's list. She remains co-leader of the party, and probably has the highest public profile of any Green MP.
Fitzsimons in married, and has two adult children. She and her husband manage an organic farm in the Coromandel region.
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