Robson-On-Politics 8 May
Thu 8 May Matt Robson MP
Four Weeks Leave wave rolls on
Parliament's messengers will have earned their fourth week of holidays. Each day they bring hundreds of postcards of support from the public to my office. Enthusiasm here is mirrored by workers outside Parliament. I spoke at a large meeting of union delegates in Auckland on Friday. They took many cards back to their fellow workers and families to be filled in. One delegate, Les, told me that Minister Parekura Horomia is his cousin. Les asked me to take the following message back to the Minister: "You'd better vote for this bill for families, cousin. Or else me and the family will want to know why?" So would thousands of others.
Europe and regional development
Jim Anderton has just returned from visiting business and political leaders in Europe. There it is accepted that governments have a role to play. They are dealing with economic development and growing their companies.
He is establishing a network of 'world class' New Zealanders living abroad who can open up export opportunities. There are big furniture manufacturers in Europe and America who need New Zealand timber and could open plants here.
And on Friday 9th, 38 Ministers and MPs will be in 17 cities and towns for "smart growth day." We want people to know that all the separate innovation projects and strategies come together in a big growth picture.
Safer communities: tackling youth drinking
We are keeping young people safe by tackling alcohol abuse. In 2001, 28% of young women (14-17 years) drank "four drinks or more in one sitting at least once a week." That's nearly double the 15% figure in 1998. And more young men who are drinking to excess.
These young people got plastered on 'light spirits' - alcohol just under 23% proof - because it was cheap: it escaped the higher duty on spirits over 23% proof.
Jim Anderton introduced the law change on Tuesday to bring the duty on 14% - 23% alcohol into line with stronger spirits. Young people are being deterred from abusing alcohol. See:
$20m means minimal doctors fees for children
We have implemented a further plank from the Progressive health policy and the coalition agreement. It is a step toward the elimination of child poverty. $20 million is to go to Primary Health Organisations to allow for only minimal fees for under 18 year olds. This is a big step forward to our Progressive goal of free healthcare for all. Next - we aim to eliminate health charges for everyone over 65. See http://www.progressive.org.nz/media/releases/pr20030502-mr-free-health-closer.htm
$85 million for Industry Training
A skilled workforce is essential for continued economic growth. One of our key Progressive Cornerstone Commitments was to ensure that over 100,000 people are in skills training by 2005. The Budget announcement of a further $85 million for industry training means we will now reach 150,000 by 2005. This investment in our workforce is an investment in jobs for New Zealanders. See: http://www.progressive.org.nz/media/releases/pr20030501-mr-industry-training.htm
Education: working towards our priorities
In Wednesday's General Debate I said that Progressives want universally accessible education. We know we won't get everything we want, yet we are achieving a great deal. When we do not win a coalition policy debate, we will reserve the right to fight the cause another day. See:
Levin Community Safety Meeting May 12th
Levin Progressives are promoting our policy of developing community safety through a greater emphasis on early intervention. If you are in Levin you are welcome to come to the meeting where I'll be talking about Progressive policies for achieving safer communities. Monday, 2pm, Levin Memorial Hall.