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robson-on-politics Fri 13 June

robson-on-politics Fri 13 June

9,467 four weeks postcards at Select Committee

The campaign for four weeks leave for all working people reached a milestone on Thursday when I presented nearly ten thousand postcards from all over New Zealand to the Select Committee considering the Progressive private members bill. (You can still ask for and send in postcards, so keep them coming.)

Committee members including Labour's Helen Duncan, Dave Hereora, Lynne Pillay, and Sue Bradford (Green) were very supportive. I thanked the Greens for their consistent support and also New Zealand First and Labour supporting the Bill to the select committee stage.

It's up To Labour

Working families struggling to balance family and work need four weeks leave. National and ACT give only lip service to caring about families and won't support my Bill. So, what happens next hangs on Labour ministers. Initially they said 'we're not going to support four weeks.' That changed under public pressure and they voted for it to go to Select Committee. Now they say 'not before the next election.' Keep the pressure on Labour ministers.

United Nations moves in Iraq and Afghanistan

This week saw three major debates in Parliament. First up, Jim Anderton strongly backed New Zealand's contribution of Defence personnel and NZ$1 million to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of both war-torn countries. New Zealand consistently pulls its weight in international affairs, and we do so as part of a multilateral effort within the framework of international law. See:

We've been working on the railroad

"I feel like I am at a party. . . New Zealanders are actually out celebrating." When news of the rail deal came through, I had been talking about community safety in Auckland. The audience broke into cheers. And Bill English (National MP) dug himself into yet another hole with his confused attacks on recovering the rail network. He conveniently forgets that it was National that sold rail in 1993 in a flawed privatization without a Kiwi share to protect the public if things went wrong.

Transport Minister Paul Swain, speaking with me in a two-man tag-team speech, noted the Opposition always backs the wrong horse. "Finger on the National Party pulse, and there is none." He reminded us of National's 1993 prediction - now proven to be so hollow - of "a very successful contribution from Wisconsin Central Transportation to the New Zealand economy." Bulldust!

Kiwibank's 140,000 customers an SOE success

The third debate reviewed State Owned Enterprises. When Bill English was in government it was all talk of doom and gloom and how public assets had to go at fire sales. Today's problems are often problems of success.

Kiwibank's growing pains, for example, are caused by meeting targets well ahead of the business plan. Fifteen months after opening they now have over 140,000 customers. The original target was 150,000 by 2005.

Kiwibank is real competition for the overseas banks. Its low-interest (12.9%) credit card has fees of $38 a year. But the BNZ's 'low-interest' card rate is 14.25% and has super-high fees of up to $240 a year.

Labour, I said, has moved on from the 1984-era years of asset sales and is "so sensible that it has formed a coalition with us. Jim Anderton and I welcome those 52 Labour MPs" who are helping us deliver partnerships with the community and progressive policies for people. My two speeches will be at:

The (Tonga) Times, they are a' changing The Tongan government, under intense local and international pressure, has at last complied with the Supreme Court's ruling. 2,000 copies of Taimi'o Tonga newspaper sold out within hours of release. More next week, on why a free press is important for open debate.

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