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Robson-on-politics: Budget Day

19 May 2005

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

Budget Day 2005

Most forward-looking budget yet

Our centre-left coalition government's budget this afternoon, our sixth, is the most forward-looking or progressive yet. It's no wonder that the reactionary opposition parties have descended to an extraordinarily filthy form of personality character-assassination and innuendo under the guise of Parliamentary questions: They just haven't got anything positive to offer.



I really enjoy candidates' meetings organized by interest groups. For me, the large range of voluntary organizations championing many excellent causes from Alcohol Health Watch through to Child Poverty Action and much more, are a sign of a healthy civic society.

What is depressing, however, is listening to opposition parties of the Right and the Left promising to fund every single spending proposal proposed by every lobbyist.

This sort of non-sustainable campaigning can only hurt people's faith in the democratic process in the long-term, because everyone knows that should any of those parties ever make it into government they are going to bitterly disappoint so many honest and good people.

Opposition parties should do what we did when we were in opposition: publish Alternative budgets setting out exactly the priority for spending and revenue-gathering so everyone knows which of the good causes they are sympathetic to will get priority, and which ones won't.


Knowledge carries responsibility

Treasury's forecast for the central government's cash position over coming years, after all, is publicly available information.

Just one second's worth of thought should alert all that when ACT promises to "give back the $5 billion surplus," that is about as dishonest as you can get with the public because it confuses cash currently allocated for debt repayment and an accrual accounting concept of surplus.

Knowledge and information allow us to take responsibility as a society, and as Parliamentarians.

Yesterday, Jim announced Budget 2005 includes a $1.5 million investment to pay for the development of more useful regional gross domestic product data.

The funding will permit Statistics NZ to develop the series that will include listings of GDP by industry and the components of GDP, both as measures of production by region, rather than from purchase or income levels. Good information is one if the building blocks of good policy for this and any future government.


Poor, tired old ACT

Readers may recall robson-on-politics helpfully pointed out last month that ACT was within days of being struck off the Register of Incorporated Societies. My note helped ACT quickly file required documents to avoid that.

Their financial statements for their 2004 year show they got no donations, so it is a shell of an association living off the interest dividend flow accrued from better days long past.

I didn't realize things were THAT bad, but I guess it does explain how come the once were libertarian bloc is now turning to the great anti-libertarian "Spend and Hope" man John (Rob Muldoon) Banks to try and save them from the dustbin of history come September.


Reducing the harm caused by drugs

I'm getting so many insightful letters, phone calls and emails about what we have to do together to reduce the harm being caused by drugs, especially our biggest drug problem, alcohol. Let me quote just one from the head of one of the student halls of residence at Otago:

" . . . One of the issues we have here in Dunedin is the enormous pressure on students to drink to excess. This happens because the bars and bottle stores have special promotions, sell cheap drinks and encourage binge drinking.

" . . . Most of the alcohol advertising in this city is specifically aimed at young people, this should be against the law. If Cigarette sponsorship of events can be banned so can alcohol sponsorship . . ."

I have an open mind on what practical measures we have to take to turn the tide. Please keep your ideas coming in, I'm reading it all, I promise.

All information about my Bill can be found at:


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