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Cannabis debate Thu 27th, 7.30pm

I look forward to seeing many readers at the Otahuhu Town Hall this Thursday as I take on Nandor Tanczos. Cannabis will be a defining issue for the 2005 election with Progressives against and the Greens in favour. See Jim Anderton's article" Why I think Mr Tanczos is so very wrong on cannabis" at http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=548

Progressives in government continue jobs push

Whangarei Mayor Craig Brown awarded Jim Anderton an honorary Northland Citizenship in recognition of his leadership of regional development and its success for Northland which has reversed the negative growth of the last decade. The local economy is now growing at 3.3%.

Unemployment has always an issue in Northland. Jim Anderton announced an innovative approach to get people into jobs. Businesses identify skills needed, potential workers are identified and where skills gaps exist, training is provided. Major tourism businesses are involved, including Copthorne Hotels, Beachcombers, and Scenic Circle.

Jim also announced the Bank-Able NZ scheme which will help local people turn their ideas and skills into new businesses that will create jobs. It will provide support to businesses that have viable business propositions but may not have the track record to get a bank loan. These are worthy of a helping hand to get them going.

The coalition is serious about jobs. We have got unemployment down to 4.4% (though we know Don Brash would prefer a "flexible labour market," code for the 9% - 10% levels of a decade ago) and our Progressive Cornerstone Commitment is to have every young person in either education or training or a job.

See more on Bank-Able scheme:

http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=604 the jobs initiative: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=605 and the state of the Northland economy: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=606

The case of Mr. Ahmed Zaoui

Support for the former Algerian Member of Parliament, now granted refugee status, is gaining momentum and achieving a high level of support. The efforts of his lawyers - not getting paid for much of their work - got him out of solitary confinement in Paremoremo.

Students are giving their time to translate thousands of pages of documents on the case. Well-known people are being imprisoned in a cage to show their support for Mr Zaoui - from comedienne Michele A'Court to actresses Elizabeth McRae and Miranda Harcourt to former race relations conciliator Greg Fortuin to Peter Love of the Wellington Tenths Trust.

Richard Randerson, Anglican bishop of Auckland, Cardinal Tom Williams and Bishop Robin Leahy of the Catholic church, and Sir Paul Reeves all support him too.

Back when the Refugee Status Appeal Authority issued its decision that he is a genuine refugee, I briefed the Progressive caucus and executive, and I began an extensive correspondence with responsible Ministers. On Wednesday I wrote a further open letter to all 52 Labour MPs, saying that Mr. Zaoui should be released and that any allegations should be put to him so that justice could be done. Lianne Dalziel sent me a reply saying she had read my letter with interest.

See my statement on the need for new legislation on the National Security Certificate at: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=518 And the Free Ahmed Zaoui site: http://www.freezaoui.org.nz

Kiwibank - no wonder ACT's friends want to buy it

The people's bank continues to provide real competition to the fat cats and to attract customers. It is on target to have 200,000 customers by the end of the year and is attracting sizable deposits as people move term deposits across as they mature. Not bad for a business that was only a twinkle in Jim Anderton's eye four years ago.

I'll keep telling people that Don Brash would sell it if given the chance by United after the 2005 election. If you keep meaning to sign up, go to http://www.kiwibank.co.nz

Getting four weeks leave sooner, not later

It's true: I told the NZ Herald this week I want to put pressure on Labour MPs to support my amendment to bring in four weeks leave from 2005. Unions rightly are miffed that workers will have to wait until 2007. Read the article at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?thesection=news&thesubsection=&storyID=3534543

Inquiry into New Zealand - Tonga links

I asked the Foreign Affairs select committee to inquire into our links with the kingdom. The Tongan community in New Zealand have a lot to reveal about what is rotten.

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