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robson-on-politics 24 February

robson-on-politics 24 February

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

Thur 24 February

Student debt and fees a drag on the economy

Six thousand million dollars of student debt and average university fees of $3,700 a year are two real threats to our future economic performance and are a serious social menace. This week I started my nation-wide tour of campuses to talk about the benefits of moving to universal free access to higher education. With the Young Progressive team, I visited six campuses in Christchurch and Dunedin. To join the Young Progressive team on Auckland campuses next week, call 09 525 5544 or email Matt Robson on the Mainland:


Progressive has real record of actually delivering

Of the many smaller parties in Parliament, the Progressives have the best record, by a country mile, of actually getting good things done for people: Kiwibank, industry and regional development, four weeks' annual leave and paid parental leave for workers. New graduates have saved millions with our interest freeze on student debt while they were studying fulltime.

We also got a three-year fee freeze. Labour initially resisted, or bitterly opposed, every one of those progressive initiatives, but we won the day with calm, rational persuasion, providing the business cases and doing the hard yards of research. Progressive is saying in Election 2005: Use your party vote to make us part of the next coalition so we can make serious progress toward free tertiary education. Next steps:


In North Shore, vote Phil Twyford / Progressive

I just got mail from my old Oxfam friend Phil Twyford, contesting North Shore for Labour. Phil may well be the best man to represent that electorate. However, I'll resist his campaign manager's invitation to donate $100. My money backs the coalition partner Labour needs. The North Shore Progressive Party candidate will be campaigning for people to give their second tick Party Vote to Progressive so our successful coalition government keeps on delivering good work like NZAid. When you get to Parliament Phil, we'll see if we can get the Labour-Progressive government to agree with our view that NZAid is now ready to be entirely autonomous from MFAT, and to get ODA closer to 0.7% of GDP. NZ Herald reports: "Robson push to give NZAid its own department"


Progressive government cuts youth binge drinking

Statistics NZ reports that the amount of 14%-23% alcohol content booze on sale continues to collapse. In 2004, there was 60% less on sale than two years earlier. The big trend began in September 2003 after Parliament decided to get serious about protecting vulnerable young people from being cynically targeted by the peddlers of high-alcohol content (14%-23%) spirits-based drinks.

Those drinks are now taxed on their alcohol strength, so now price-sensitive young people are turning to far less potent beverages instead. They are now buying 0.1% - 2.5% spirit-based drinks (that's right, under 2½%.) Those drinks weren't even on the market in 2002. On Monday I am co-hosting at Parliament the Drug Foundation's forum on the next steps to combat alcohol abuse including youth binge drinking. For information about my alcohol forum at Parliament on Monday call 04 470 6655 or email In 2003, we said we would tackle youth risk drinking:


Tories understand the economy: Yeah, Right!

Whenever there is a split between those of us who want to promote New Zealand economic and social development, and those who instead side with foreign monopoly, the Tory Parties always seem to be on the wrong side of New Zealand's interest. National would sell Kiwibank to one of the big foreign banks to the disadvantage of all Kiwis who benefit from lower fees Kiwibank has bought to the whole banking system. National's plans to sell Kiwibank don't add up:


Tories understand accounting: Yeah, Right! II

Before I entered Parliament I put my own money on the line and employed good people in my law practice, so I know something about running a business and the real world of the marketplace. I wish some of the Tories did. United's 2005 manifesto promises debt financing last seen under Muldoon. And ACT is led by someone whose CV indicates plenty of study at Government-funded tertiary institutions. Yet Mr Hide's statement this Monday, attacking Kiwibank's maiden profit, confuses share-holders' equity, capital investment, and net earnings. He seems to need a refresher course in Accounting 101. Kiwibank declares a six-month profit

This week's other key news stories are at


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