robson-on-politics, a newsletter from Matt Robson
Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party
Thur 16 June
Would National sell party pills to children?
National MPs had a field day today outlining just how wedded they are to a hands-off Rogernomics approach to social policy. Their contribution to Progressive's Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill (No. 3) was chilling because it shows that National clearly includes a significant bloc of ultra-right wingers who, on principle, believe governments should do nothing. Do nothing to protect children from those who would push BZP pills for profit.
New Zealand, from 1984 until 1999, suffered fifteen years of hands-off social theories being rammed down our throats in the name of a "Small State" philosophy and it delivered record high unemployment, a dramatic rise in reported crime and drug abuse and, of course, a much bigger State in reality because it threw tens of thousands of Kiwi families on to the welfare scrap heap.
Alcohol is a bigger challenge than BZP
The libertarians, who believe in a "Small State" in terms of the delivery of vital education and social services but a Much Bigger State in terms of unemployed families being on the Welfare Payroll, also had fun in Parliament this morning on another matter.
They spotted that Progressive is advocating that the alcohol purchasing age - the age at which you can walk into your corner dairy and buy alcohol - is higher than our proposed age hurdle to buying BZP.
That, as any one who has ever read a Coroner's Report on the tragedies around our country arising from teenage alcohol abuse, is because alcohol is, by a country mile, New Zealand's biggest single source of drug-related harm and turning the tide against youth alcohol abuse is a much bigger challenge than the challenge posed by BZP abuse
Social "liberals" and the working people
The Progressive Party, I have to admit, has been getting negative comment from some people that describe themselves as "social liberals" on both my Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill and Jim's Misuse of Drugs Bill.
Jim's Bill, apparently, is "too tough" on the peddlers of the very dangerous precursor drugs. Jim's persistent desire to regulate substances like butane is "not practical". My proposal to restrict broadcast advertising of alcohol, strengthen rules on the supply of liquor to minors and raise the alcohol purchasing age, on the other hand, is a an attempt at "putting the genie back in the bottle". Every social liberal knows you can't do that!
In contrast, those of us on the progressive Left can be relied on to continue to hold quaint ideas like this old chestnut: poverty isn't inevitable.
The reality is that low-income households are suffering disproportionately from the effects of youth drug problems, including from alcohol, legal party pills and legal volatile substances.
The job of the progressive Left is to respond to working people's needs, not dismiss the masses as somehow ignorant. It reminds of a poem:
"After the uprising on June 17th, the secretary of the Writers Union had flyers distributed in Stalin Way that said that the people had frivolously thrown away the government's confidence and that they could only regain it through redoubled work. But wouldn't it be simpler if the government simply dissolved the people and elected another?"
Standing with Pakistani democrats
On the eve of a visit by the leader of Pakistan to our country, it is a good time to remember our democratic allies in that country campaigning for the rule of law, liberty and freedom.
Saying Progressive in 20 languages
Progressive's candidate selections continue apace and we represent the vibrant and diverse nation that NZ is in 2005. I'm still doing the calculations, but my count is that all up our candidates are fluent in about 20 languages - all saying Party Vote Progressive.
Working conditions worse than China
I was shocked by a report from Robert Reid of the Clothing, Laundry and Allied Workers Union on working conditions at a Porirua factory. The only sustainable future for NZ is as a high-income innovative economy.
More top stories are at www.progressive.org.nz