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Lower tertiary fees on Progressive agenda

The Progressives' National Executive meets tomorrow and I will be asking them to adopt lower tertiary fees as our next big step after four weeks leave. This is an issue where Labour and Progressive differ, and I believe there is considerable public support for our position.

Tories promise free education

Helen Fairgray, Progressive education spokesperson, pointed out to Bill English that the British Tories have promised to remove tertiary fees and asked if he would do the same. See: http://www.progressive.org.nz/media/releases/pr20030515-hf-torys-free-education.htm

Electricity makes the world go round

We have a crisis when, in a very dry year, hydro - our major power source - is unable to meet demand because the lake levels have fallen drastically, and the generating companies have failed to set aside sufficient reserve generation capacity. The coalition government has acted to fix the short-term problem with a commission to ensure that suppliers provide sufficient dry year capacity. Because overall capacity needs to be guaranteed to meet future needs and the market has shown that it cannot deliver, I still believe that we need to look at consolidation and public ownership of the wholesale electricity system as part of the long term solution. Electricity is not like other consumer goods. If there is a shortage of baked beans you can switch to another food. That's not the case with power, however it is generated. A Progressive discussion document is coming. See the announcement at: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.cfm?DocumentID=16879

The railroad runs through the middle of the House

The current woes of New Zealand's railways are New Zealand's woes. The rail network must be efficient and viable to yield answers to Auckland's traffic problem and to play a vital role in economic development. Public ownership has to be part of the government's plans. RailAmerica is a company with its own financial problems and we don't want to repeat the gift we gave to Fay, Richwhite and friends. At the right price, we should put this asset back to work in the public interest.

Methamphetamine is bad for your health

Police, health workers, and others involved in the battle against drug abuse agree that methamphetamine, known as P, is probably the most dangerous drug to ever appear in New Zealand. That is why the coalition is taking a series of measures including making it a Class A drug, boosting police resources to find the labs which manufacture it, and prosecution of peddlers. At the same time education and assistance for those addicted have been boosted. Education yes as the Greens urge but unfortunately the slow learner problem is so great that enforcement is also a very large need. See: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.cfm?DocumentID=16895

Death With Dignity Bill

This bill to consider the question of voluntary euthanasia will come before parliament the near future. I support the bill. Jim Anderton will oppose it. However, I know many MPs agree this is an issue that needs a thorough airing. Recent cases of alleged attempted murder/suicide by the elderly highlight the need for the public debate.

Recently, I met with Lesley Martin. She has been charged with attempted murder for her alleged role in the death of her mother, dying from terminal cancer. I would encourage those who want to know Lesley's story and her argument for voluntary euthanasia to read her book "To Die Like A Dog" which can be obtained from any bookshop or email m-press@xtra.co.nz

Around the traps Next week I will delivering the South Auckland Clinical School Open Lecture, speaking at Waikato University, and visiting Invercargill. Bookmark this link and visit regularly for details of our activities around the country: http://www.progressive.org.nz/main/noticeboard.htm

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