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Families Commission bill - 3rd reading speech

11 December 2003

Families Commission bill - Matt Robson's 3rd reading speech notes

Next week a thumping 32-vote majority in this Parliament will vote in favour of extending minimum annual holiday provisions to four weeks. We'll do that in part because the majority of this democratically elected and representative Parliament wants to play a positive role in strengthening families - families that will always be the basic building block of social harmony and cohesion.

For the Progressive Party there is no division between our commitment to strengthening families and our campaigns against drugs in society, our campaign in promotion of Four Weeks Leave or our commitment to strong economic, regional and industry development programmes.

Social and economic development are two parts of the same coin. All over the world, working families are under financial and social stress as they balance their competing family and work commitments. The Progressive Party is voting in favour of the Families Commission because our commitment is to making New Zealand a safer, more decent and happy place in which to live and work, to prosper and to raise families.

The August 2002 Coalition Agreement between Labour and the Progressives included a recognition of the Progressives commitment to balancing work and family. The Families Commission will be an autonomous government agency led by a board of commissioners. It will have responsibility for:

- advocating for families and promoting better understanding of family issues and needs amongst government agencies and in the wider community;

- promoting, purchasing and disseminating research into family issues; and

- contributing to policy development across the government as a key stakeholder on family-related issues.

An absolute majority is saying yes to this progressive legislation - 62 votes thanks to cooperation between three parties that are serious about helping to strengthen families and auditing and monitoring all the work that we do against the criteria - is it consistent with our overarching objective of strengthening families.

It isn't surprising that the National and ACT parties are voting against this. With all their far fetched promises to cut the taxes of the richest members of society, they'd have to radically cut the present government's economic development, anti-drugs and other family-friendly policies to fund it all.

I'm astonished the Greens and NZ First would fall into line with Don Brash and Richard Prebble's parties - and I would urge them to put New Zealanders first and not cast their votes alongside the Far Right parties against this family friendly initiative this afternoon.

ENDS


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