robson-on-politics Fri 20 June
Fri 20 June Matt Robson MP
What people want: A fair go in a free society
We almost take normal democratic freedoms for granted in New Zealand, but in Tonga free speech and freedom of the press are under attack.
While sometimes I disagree with the opinions New Zealand papers publish, I agree with Voltaire "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too." It is part of our healthy society that open debate will test ideas and allow us to grow as a nation.
But this is not the case in Tonga today where Taimi'o Tonga (the Times of Tonga) has been attacked for printing words that the elite do not care to read. So I spoke last night at a public meeting organized by Tongan community members in Auckland and I wrote an article for today's Herald (web link below.)
All Tongans want is what people anywhere want: a fair go in a free society. New Zealand is in a position to offer constructive help to Tongan reformers in getting there.
Jobs reduce re-offending
The biggest single factor in reducing re-offending by released prisoners is a job. So I was happy to get a phone call this week from an Auckland employer who had struck some difficulty in getting a young man into a job - he is due for release in August and should now be eligible for work parole, returning to Mt Eden at night.
This employer is one of a growing number of bosses prepared to give people a second chance. She is offering a job to a former worker who has almost served his time. I was happy to go into bat. I salute Julie, employers like her, and also Business NZ who support the concept. Work and Income have to be solidly in support as well.
Railways deal now up to shareholders
TranzRail shareholders have a fair deal put to them by our coalition government, offering to buy the tracks for the $1 price paid in 1993, and in addition to take a 35% stake in the company. It is up to them to decide within seven weeks whether to accept it. That will mean that the trains, which carry large volumes of exports including timber and coal, will keep running without interruption.
McCully: Don't leave home without him
I told Bill English, leaving for Washington DC: don't leave home without McCully. It is well known that National's leadership coups occur when three events coincide: The leader is away, Murray McCully is in town, and support is 50% of Labour's.
ACT's grand coalition disappears, another forms?
Now that Richard Prebble's illusion of a grand coalition of ACT, NZ First and National has crumbled, there seems to be a new coalition emerging between ACT and the Greens. Neither party wants to take responsibility for putting policies into place, they just want to oppose. ACT supported the Greens' no-confidence motion in the Budget and both voted against the boy racer law and the Resource Management Act Amendment bill. That last provides sensible change and is delivering jobs as part of the coalition's partnership with business and regions.
Iran must not be the next military target
Former British cabinet ministers Robin Cook and Clare Short are revealing the dishonest basis for the Bush-led attack on Iraq. The integrity of international law demands that, despite sabre-rattling in the media this week, Iran is not next for military invasion. While reform is in the air, an attack is not the solution. See: http://www.progressive.org.nz/media/releases/pr20030618-mr-not-iran.htm
Four Weeks Leave talk
I had breakfast with some Auckland union organisers today and talked about progress on the Four Weeks Leave campaign. These people will phrase more kindly my words from the Southland Times, "I'm here to hold a blowtorch to the bum of the Labour Party." The message is that intelligent and constant pressure must be applied.
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