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Robson-on-Politics, 02 June 2006


02 June 2006

Lab-Progressive government takes action to redress Labour's Telecom fiasco

In 1989 and 1990, after Roger Douglas had surrendered the finance portfolio, the Labour Cabinet did some remarkable things.

It instructed the Post Office to sell its retail bank, PostBank, to one of the big Aussie banks, thereby squandering the huge banking potential of the nation-wide infrastructure of NZ Post.

They gave away Air NZ, the strategic link between many exporters and their overseas' markets as well as the vehicle on which our vital tourism sector largely depends. They did so without measures to guarantee against any future fly-by-nighters taking hold of the company and endangering our national interests.

They did lots of other things, too. Telecom was given away at a bargain-basement price as an integrated monopoly, ignoring the concerns of those who feared the likely retardation of the economy's potential from stifling competition in the emerging telecommunication's sector.

These days we have MMP and it is impossible for the two major parties to hold the country to ransom and unleash the sort of severe damage inflicted on society and the economy in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

The coalition government, for example, is starting to redress some of the obvious obstacles and hurdles to development in the telecommunications market. And on Budget Day, the government announced that we've finally put to bed the rivers of red ink left by the National government of 1975-1984. This is the first government in history to have more financial assets than it has liabilities. We have a government that is saving for the future, building a much more secure future for today's young.


Progressive is about saving for investment

Since 1999, we have had initiatives like Kiwibank, public investment in rail, roads, aviation and energy and major taxpayer funded spending on upskilling the workforce. We've extended workers' annual and parental leave entitlements and promoted our regional economies.

Labour, as the dominant party in coalition since 1999, initially opposed most of these policies but the beauty of MMP is that allows junior partners into the Cabinet room to argue and win policy debates - policies which - once bedded in - are then happily absorbed into Labour's work programme as if it was their own.

Under MMP, Progressive ideas have been, and can continue to be, delivered.


'05 Manifesto included married super rate at 66% of average wage

Progressive's 2005 Manifesto commitments have taken some steps forward since the election night, with further progress outlined in the budget.

We went into the election committed to raising the floor of National Super for a married couple to no less than 66% of the average after-tax wage, and that is in train. Our commitment to secure progress for the Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction Bill has been kept and Parliament will get the opportunity to take practical, meaningful action to help turn the tide against youth binge drinking. And major strides have been delivered in the direction of our skills shortage package.

Other Progressive budget initiatives:

Biosecurity funding boosted by $33.2m


New funding to plan fisheries management



Jim Anderton polls top marks from Dominion Post on Budget speech

9/10 "Unemployment is under 4% for the first time since the mid-80s. Brash, as Governor of the Reserve Bank, used to write forecasts that saw unemployment steady at 7% of the workforce forever. And now that it's half the rate it was then, he dares to come in here and question the Labour-Progressive's government's economic performance? He wants to take away the jobs of young New Zealanders and give tax cuts to affluent middle-aged men like himself. That is the National Party's entire economic policy."Progressive leader Jim Anderton wins on passion in his defence of the Government's decision to forgo tax cuts.

Brash's cultural cringe reminiscent of Sir Joh



But the centre-left needs to re-gain its majority in '08

But the centre-left lost its majority in Parliament last September.

The six-year majority for the Left was extinguished and the challenge before the Left is to re-gain than majority in 2008.

Members of the Progressive Party in Auckland, Christchurch and other parts of the country where we stood candidates last year want to contribute to the Left re-gaining the initiative in 2008 and we know that we will face a very serious challenge from what is likely to be an Opposition led by new faces like John Key and Katherine Rich.

It is a big challenge because there has been an extraordinary effort by the foreign-owned media outlets to define the terms of political debate in our country in a way that reinforces the Big Lie being promoted by the National Party.

The Big Lie is that it is desirable and credible for the New Zealand government to start increasing its debt levels again just like it did in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The Muldoon, Lange and Bolger governments delivered credit card-funded tax cuts that mainly benefited those on higher incomes.

The country paid a very high price for the Right's folly. It was only this year that we finally managed to pay the bill.

And with an ageing population, we can't afford to play those dangerous games of the past ever again.

We can't rely on the foreign-owned media to tell us what is going on in Aotearoa any more than we can rely on the NZ Herald to tell us what is happening in our Pacific backyard.

The Auckland-based newspaper which says in an editorial (31 May) that the genocide in East Timor during the Indonesian occupation was nothing more than a few "bloody incidents" is the same foreign-owned newspaper that uses every opportunity to re-litigate the 2005 election debate over the Right's Big Tax Lie - the Big Lie that voters rejected in the election.


Robson-on-politics will follow the battle of ideas between the reactionary right and the progressive alternative and it will try and fill in a bit of Pacific regional news as well to fill the huge void not covered by the foreign owned media, near-monopolies that have near-exclusive access to our letter-boxes and airwaves.


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