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robson-on-politics 4 February

robson-on-politics 4 February

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

Fri 4 February

Focusing on Election 2005

Hello from Havana at the start of Election Year 2005. It's been a big week with Don Brash punishing Katherine Rich for her integrity, (see and Jim Anderton's speech spelling out the Progressives platform: that the election must be about social justice.

Why am I in Cuba you ask? Because with representatives of Te Wananga o Aotearoa I have been at a UN conference on education and literacy attended by over 5000 delegates, many from Latin America. Cuba abolished illiteracy in 1961 and introduced completely free education at all levels (that's right, no student debt.) And they have a completely free heath system for all their citizens, while managing to send doctors to other countries. Remarkable feats for a third world nation.

In New Zealand, Te Wanaga o Aotearoa has 6,000 students who have completed a literacy course, designed and implemented with six Cuban tutors who have been in Te Awamutu for a year. Another 6,000 have enrolled this year. Naturally because this education system is so successful successive American administrations have for 40 years invaded, terrorised, sabotaged, and blockaded Cuba. Can't have free health and education getting in the way of the 'Free World'. So what else have I seen here?


Lessons from Cuban education

I went to primary and secondary schools. The class ratio in primary is now 1 to 20 and in secondary 1 to 15. Despite the virtual collapse of the economy in 1989 after the break up of the Soviet Union, education remained a priority. With recovery a national campaign is underway to lift everyone to the level of a university education, with no student fees or debt. Students who don't want to continue at school are paid to train for a useful career. Progressive view of the next steps to free tertiary education in NZ:


Health, Havana style

Cuba has a deliberate surplus of doctors and therefore can meet the needs of Cubans and it seems many third world countries. For every 700 people there are a resident doctor and nurse who live in a specially constructed clinic. Nearby is a polyclinic which includes dental services. All for free. This explains why the mortality rate for births is 5.8 per 1000 which is one of the lowest in the world and better than the USA. Progressive: towards free health care:


Auckland Progressives meet this Sat 12 Feb to focus on campaign 2005. Ph 525 5544 for info.


Prisons in Cuba

This former Minister of Corrections was impressed with a Cuban prison where 20 of the inmates will graduate as nurses with university degrees and another 20 as physical education teachers. The aim is to turn all prisons into universities. And Cuba's judges can't be called softies. Concerned New Zealanders would have their eyes opened by the 20 to 30 year sentences for drug dealing.


Progressive stands for universal values Jim Anderton has represented the independent progressive Left in Parliament since 1989 when NewLabour was in Opposition to the Fourth Labour Government. Since 1999 we've kept Labour focused. Fruits of coalition include Kiwibank, four weeks' leave, paid parental leave and real economic development. Now, the Progressives are working inside government for a transformation of our society. Our objectives are universal, public education from pre-school to tertiary. Universal access to quality health care. The opportunity for every family to have a home of their own. Jim's full speech is at:

Indicators show NZ's progress and work still to do

Jim Anderton and Michael Cullen released the Economic Development Indicators 2005 Report which tracks our performance these past five progressive years. The coalition's constructive 'can-do' approach to economic development is starting to pay real dividends to all New Zealanders. We need a few more years of progressive government before we fully undo the damage done by the 25 years' decline in our country's fortunes after 1975. The full report:

This week in Parliament: Most Ironic Speech

A clear winner, ACT's Rodney Hide. Sentimentality about the Grand Old Days of the 1950s - near zero crime, full employment and high living standards. Also the days of a much more regulated economy, a top marginal tax rate of over 80% instead of the current 39%. Good on ya!


This week on there are stories on why the economy is driving the need for free tertiary education, and Tana Umaga on education.


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