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Matt Robson MP

I held this edition for 24 hrs to bring you the latest news:

Today's Vote: Four Weeks Leave passes The vote for the First Reading of the Bill was 76 - 43. In favour were: Progressives 2 votes, Labour 52, Greens 9, and NZ First 13. Against were: National 27 votes, Act 8, and United Future, the family party, 8 So the Four Weeks Leave bill has been referred to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee. I expect they will very soon call for public submissions. Readers should note that the same committee has already called for submissions on the Holidays Bill introduced by Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson last week. The closing date on that is 30 May. See speeches on the Bill at: http://www.robsononline.org.nz

What does all this mean Four weeks minimum annual leave for all employees is now a matter of "when" rather than "if." Progressives have made an important commitment to the balance between work and life. Four weeks leave will strengthen families too. We have put it firmly on the political agenda. Not bad for an issue which started life with only 11 votes in support. Well done Progressives!

Star Wars, Aussie style John Howard's Liberal government has announced to the world that it wants to be in the first rank with the US and Great Britain to disarm Saddam of weapons of mass destruction, invoices for which are in Western capitals. There is then a certain irony in the news that Australia hopes to join the US missile defence system or "Star Wars" -- a space based system to shoot down ballistic missiles. It fits easily into the category of weapons of mass destruction and is set to trigger a further arms race of nuclear weapons. Hopefully they will soon reconsider and will work through the United Nations to achieve disarmament. Now that is a good topic for a lunch with Mr Howard.

Iraq - Vote against war in Turkey With banner headlines almost every day on a looming war it would be easy to accept the line being driven by the US that "this war is coming so get out of the way." But human beings are stubborn creatures and despite the best efforts of our betters we insist on answering back. And the people and parliamentarians of Turkey have answered back in a big way. Turkey turned down the "offer," which unkind souls call a "bribe," of US $26 billion and said No! to the stationing of a large invasion force on their soil. And in the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster over 120 Labour MPs defied their Leader and his Whips and with a total of 199 Mps voted No! to war. (An aside: only MPs know the full force of threats and cajoling that party whips can use.) The people of Iraq will, I am sure end, the nightmare of life under Saddam, with genuine international support, sooner rather than later. But they don't want liberation over the bodies of their own citizens, the further destruction of shattered infrastructure and a pre-determined post-Saddam regime whose priority is to dance to the tune called by Washington and London.

United Future: Imitation the best form of flattery Good to see MP Marc Alexander belatedly backing a call for a cross party criminal justice group. When Minister for Corrections I called for just that so we could discuss what really works in reducing offending. Perhaps it can be we can look at facts and work for long-term solutions -- let's try early intervention for a start.

Prostitution Reform Bill Supporters lobby me saying defeat of the bill will be a victory for the Moral Right. But who is the Moral Left?

robson-on-politics will be in Northland next week and will return to your email/fax on 18th March.

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