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Four Weeks becoming a Government Bill

I well remember one year ago Michael Cullen, standing outside the Chamber by the lift, saying 'No' to my question as to whether Labour would support the Progressives' four weeks bill. But our campaign to prove the public support for this pro-family move has paid off. Labour has come to the party and NZ First has heeded the public voice. (I will have to explain to them that immigrants will also receive the extra week.) So we have a Parliamentary majority now of 76 to 44. Not bad for a measure that originally only had the 2 Progressive votes and the Greens' 9. What happens now?

Labour has asked me to fold my bill into the coalition government's Holidays Amendment Bill. Willingly, I said. But there is a hold up. Labour wants it to start on April 1 2007. That's better than their original idea of "four weeks after four years service" or "two days one year and one day a year after that". We are much more ambitious for New Zealand workers. The Progressives will move that the extra week come into force from the 1 April 2005. New Zealand families have waited a long time for this quality time. They deserve it sooner rather than later. See announcement: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=559 and my speech challenging NZ First to make 4 weeks a bottom line at http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=578 _____________________

Coalition government good for business

Business Roundtable head Roger Kerr must be on a different planet when he says that every move we make, every step we take, will be bad for us. Because the reality turns out to be the opposite: the Labour-Progressive government is good for New Zealand. On Tuesday, latest employment figures showed another 61,000 jobs were created in the last year, with 1,939,000 people now in work. Unemployment is down again, this time to 4.4% or 88,000 - down one third since the government took office. Progressives support more work being done to reduce Maori unemployment, which is currently at 20,000 or 9.7%. No resting on laurels here! Then we learnt that the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme reached its target three months early. By Sept 30, there were 6,073 young people serving their time as apprentices. That's better than Don Brash's vision of no government partnership with industries, and no way of working to ensure young people have the skills they need. Rather, the Progressive commitment of all young people in education, training or jobs is the right idea. See jobs news at: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=572 and apprenticeships at: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=579 and Canterbury jobs at: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=573 _____________________

Screen Production Taskforce a Progressive win

Jim Anderton announced a win for the Progressives on Monday. The Screen Production Taskforce set a target of $400m sustainable annual foreign exchange earnings within five years, and told government what is needed. Jim announced four concrete initiatives by government, including $1.9m to establish an industry organisation and to support overseas marketing of New Zealand as a great place to make films. It is about the coalition working with the film sector to strengthen the domestic base and build critical mass. Lord of the Rings may be only the start. See the news at: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=565 Details of the initiatives: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=566 And a fact sheet: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=567 "Film Makers Reel In More Cash" reports the NZ Herald: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=568 Christchurch is officially Film Friendly http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=574 _____________________

Towards a nuke free Southern Hemisphere

Speaking in Vancouver to the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Disarmament Conference last weekend, I told delegates that New Zealand's popularly-supported nuclear-free status is threatened by the policies of National and Act, encouraged by the United States and Australia, to move away from our nuclear free status so that we can take part in future adventures. (NB: United and NZ First yet to declare their position.) My proposal that New Zealand hold a conference in Wellington to rid the southern hemisphere of nuclear weapons was enthusiastically received. (Already, all of Latin America and the Caribbean is nuke-free.) I will be taking the conference proposal up with Labour. See my speech in full at: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=558 and the news on the Southern Hemisphere Nuclear Weapons Free Zone http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=557 _____________________

Children growing up drug-free

A 15-year-old, killed, running a tinny house is a shock. We need to get tough on drugs. Blaming people won't help. Ensuring our children can grow up drug-free will. I will be arguing for our children on Thursday Nov 27 at 7.30 pm in Otahuhu Town Hall. Opposing me will be Green MP Nandor Tanczos. For info phone 09 273 8150. To find out about the Progressives' anti-drugs campaign, start at: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=categories&op=new index&catid=2

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