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robson-on-politics 12 March

robson-on-politics, a weekly newsletter from Matt Robson MP

Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party

Brash leads followers on long walk into the desert

National's desperate gamble of making Don Brash leader has seen the party veer off into the unelectable-to-government policy prescription previously dominated by ACT and NZ First. The easy part was demolishing ACT and NZ First 's 17½% support in 2002 which has now been folded into the Brash camp till Election 2005. The fun part will be to watch National progressively lose the middle ground as they increasingly slip into Muldoonism - see an article at:
The next 18 months until polling day will be a long walk into the desert for National. The 21% support secured by Bill English in 2002 will be under threat with the public scrutiny of Brash's simplistic slogans of Treaty of Waitangi-bashing, selling Kiwibank, non-needs based tax cuts, and returning us to the nuclear weapons umbrella.

Progressive gov't does best fighting for people

The lesson of the past four and a half years of minority progressive coalition government is that we've been popular when we stick to our knitting. We've been supported when we've fought alongside New Zealanders to make this country progressively better. We're popular when promoting active government involvement in regional, industry and economic development (a good meeting on the topic with Rodney District business leaders on Monday); when taking action to reduce drug and alcohol problems in society; when we started Kiwibank in a banking market dominated by a few big Australian banks; when delivering paid parental leave and four weeks annual leave entitlements to help working families better balance the demands of work and family commitments. And when we've been successful at encouraging new investment in New Zealand. (The Herald reports American businessman George Buckley's visit at the government's invitation resulted in investment and 200 jobs - not bad for $20,000 of public money. If only we could get 100,000 more jobs @ $100 each.)

The Buckley story is at


We've been unpopular when we've been arrogant - when we've pretended that We Know Best when we don't. It is wrong that many Labour and all Green MPs with Don Brash and other Tory MPs railroaded the law that decriminalized prostitution through Parliament. Only 60 of the 120 MPs supported the controversial Bill. Every NZ First, United and Progressive MP opposed it.

Our ideas win thumping Parliamentary majorities

Progressive-inspired legislation since the 2002 election has received very big majorities in Parliament because those laws are about fighting alongside people. Those include Four Weeks Annual Leave for all employees, reclassifying P as a Class A hard drug, the creation of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise as the economic and trade development agency, classifying the precursors of P as controlled drugs, and the 'light spirit' tax hike to combat youth binge drinking. The Labour Progressive government has to stick to its progressive knitting.

The minority government can win a Third Term

Labour won four consecutive elections between 1935 and 1946 with between 47% and 56% of votes cast. Twice they had over half the vote. 1946: 51.3%; 1943: 47.6%; 1938: 55.8%; 1935: 47.1% (includes Ratana 1%). We've always known that it will be harder under MMP. Centre-left parties got 51.6% of the vote in 1999 and 51.3% in 2002. However 1.3% of that was wasted in 2002 and distributed among all parties including the Right. And the Greens continue to vote against our Budgets and raise no confidence motions. Looking ahead, many of the Greens' positions cause me sorrow. Their ongoing misunderstanding of our support for the United Nations' call to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan; opposition to lowering global trade barriers, which would help NZ and the Third World; and the failure to support sustainable planning to fund universal superannuation, could all threaten a Third Term. The challenge for the Labour Progressive government is to broaden its base of support so that we aren't dependent on parties that aren't interested in fighting with New Zealanders. The Progressives have clearly stated where we stand and we are asking for voters support. See 'No time is more important than now' at

Kiwibank to turn a profit ahead of target, More paid parental leave, Why its good Don Brash isn't head of the Reserve Bank - see the news at robson-on-politics is available by email and fax. If someone you know would like to subscribe, email

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Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

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