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robson-on-politics 29 August

How does a coalition government work?

We'll have the answer to that question when our coalition partner comes to the Progressive conference on Sun 21st September. Labour Cabinet ministers Margaret Wilson and Paul Swain will join Jim Anderton and me in a panel discussion 'How a coalition government works.' I expect there will be interest from members and the public as we discuss the hard work that happens when the coalition works through issues leading up to a public announcement. I hope we can tell some interesting tales. Everyone is welcome to the public sessions and members of course can attend the whole conference. Contact Sally Griffin, , ph 09 273 8150, or fax 09 274 5176 to express your interest. The full programme is at

Celebrating economic success

The National Bank's latest quarterly survey showed good news in light of three months when business confidence weakened across the country and the New Zealand dollar strengthened against the U.S. dollar and euro. Despite that, economic activity rose in eleven of the fourteen regions in the quarter, and nationwide we had 3.2% growth. That is good news for jobs which in turn allows us to deliver safer communities and spending on social services such as health and education. I see Canterbury recorded an excellent 4.2% annual growth, the highest in New Zealand. Remind me, where does the Minister of Economic Development come from? See: and

Learning to use technology

This week I've been keeping in touch with New Zealand from the Netherlands where I am speaking at the "Building a Global Alliance for Restorative Practices" conference on restorative justice. A laptop computer, web-mail and roaming coverage on my cellphone mean it is almost as easy to stay in touch as if I were in Godzone. My staff got a surprise when I rang from the right-hand seat of a car on the Utrecht motorway. I met Dutch parliamentarians including the Socialist Party who now oppose prostitution law reform after voting for it. I am looking at the horrific effects on the young of loose drug and alcohol laws, met anti-nuclear campaign-ers, and went to the International Criminal Court and the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons.

National betrays superannuation accord

A clear message this week that provision of adequate income into retirement depends upon maintaining the Labour-Progressive coalition. It was revealed that National has failed to commit to universal government-funded super for all. Instead National, which has adopted many of Act's key policies, abandoned the idea of cross-party support for this issue of critical importance to the future well-being of our nation. See:

Families Commission Plans Progressing Well

The August 2002 Coalition Agreement between our party and Labour included (at the Progressives' insistence) that the coalition government develop and make progress on policies to promote a better balance of work and family responsibilities in New Zealand. I'm delighted with the work going on behind the scenes on progressing the establishment of a Families Commission which will begin operations next July. For me, this is what MMP is really all about. It isn't about slanging matches but about seeing strong cooperation between three politicial parties sitting down and doing the nitty gritty hard work which is actually required to get something really positive done for our country. See Progressive policy at:

Fighting causes of poverty

I've introduced an amendment to the Responsible Gamb-ling Bill which, if passed, will cut the number of non-casino pokies by 20%. This move is endorsed by anti-poverty campaigners. Expect the debate in September See:

More at on these issues and on relations with Australia, why we say no tertiary fee hikes, and the Government-regions-industry jobs partnership. robson-on-politics is available by email and fax. If someone you know would like to subscribe, email

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