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Robson-on-Politics, 26 March 2004

Robson-on-Politics, a weekly newsletter from Matt Robson MP Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party

U-turns In recent weeks we have seen some dramatic policy U-turns from National and some confusing messages from other parties that appear to be flirting at U-turns of their own.

I can tell you from close observation of the goings on in Parliament that National's u-turns have been unsettling for NZ First, ACT and United as they each try to position themselves as National's partner.

Labour will stay staunch Labour, I'm sure, knows that policy U-turns don't work unless they are based on either new evidence or enduring principles. Labour, I'm sure, will continue to proudly defend our progressive achievements since 1999, and not pander to the Right Wing parties that are beating the drum over the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori issues generally.

The Right Wing are desperately trying to add to misunderstanding on race relations. I think it will be hard to sustain for 18 months to polling day because the truth is that New Zealand race relations while not perfect have at least seen tolerance and respect between communities.

This isn't Yugoslavia or Palestine! Sometimes when I hear statements from the Opposition on race relations I think they must be referring to Yugoslavia in the 1990s or Palestine in the 1930s. And I admit to being a bit out of my depth on all of this. The navel-gazing and angst we've seen is a bit hard to comprehend for a simple, Australian-born fellow like me.

No community is in danger of being dispossessed or disinherited in this my adopted homeland. This is one of the happiest countries in the world. New Zealand in the 21st Century is a model of fairness, good relations between communities and democratic participation. Some politicians mightn't know it but most New Zealanders are actually busy unlocking the future. Audio file of Mana News interview with Jim Anderton

Maori economic development vital to our wellbeing Our economy has been one of the fastest growing in the developed world over the last four years. Unemployment is down to levels not seen in a generation, including of course for Maori and Pacific Island people.

The coalition government has funded many impressive Major Regional Initiatives that are driving growth in regional economies. The truth is that every region has enthusiastically worked with local Maori to build a stronger future for us all which is vital because New Zealand's economic development depends on successful Maori economic development.

In forty years time, up to 30 per cent of New Zealanders will be Maori or Pacific people. Jim Anderton's radio interview with Mana News, discussing the vital role of Maori economic development, can be heard as an audio file at

National's dismal proposals for Maori National says it wants to end both MMP voting and Maori electorate seats. These proposals, taken together, are inflammatory.

If implemented, they would cut the number of MPs who identify as Maori from the current level, reflective of the Maori proportion of the population, to a disgraceful 1%. In short, National's proposals, if ever implemented, would tear New Zealand apart by very significantly disenfranchising Maori.

Labour's Kiwibank, paid parental leave & 4 weeks leave

In the general debate on Wednesday, Labour expressed their now very strong support for the government's progressive successes - Kiwibank, four weeks leave and paid parental leave featured highly as things to be protected from a Brash Attack. - The highlights of the past four years of coalition government are the Progressive ones. My speech as an original backer defending Kiwibank is on the website.

Remember I'm your host on Radio 531PI 12 to 2 on Fridays. Tune in to 531 on the AM band. < > has more on the week that was: A major regional initiative announced to develop tourism in Wanganui / Ruapehu / Rangitikei. Fairer trade rules are delivering more New Zealand jobs. Israel, US are undermining the war on fundamentalist terrorism. Iwi consultation money well spent (and there'll be a new article on the site Monday).

robson-on-politics is available by email and fax. If someone you know would like to subscribe, email >

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