Robson-On-Politics - Wednesday 16 August 2006
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Kia mau, kia mau.
Overseas development aid commitments
The five best contributions that the New Zealand government can make to assist to turn the tide against global poverty, including in our Pacific region, are to (1) reduce to zero all tariff import levies on all imports from developing societies, (2) invest heavily in those societies civil society and physical infrastructure (like electricity, roads and transport), (3) put in place a more intelligent regime to satisfy the employment needs of the region and match that to our own labour requirements, (4) go into bat for multilateral rules to lower barriers to cross-border trade in agriculture where developing socieites have competitive advantage and kill the destructive, imperialist policies of the EU and the U.S. which subsidise the production of, and then dump, their agriculture produce on to world markets while simultaneously protecting their own markets from fair trade and fair competition and (5) actually meet the international goal of 0.7% of GNI per year in aid.
On August 24 I will participate in the United Nations Association Aotearoa-Council for International Development debate on New Zealand’s overseas development aid commitments and the UN goal of OECD countries pledging 0.7% of GNI to international aid.
Nine to Noon on sentencing, crime & punishment
I was on Radio New Zealand's Nine To Noon programme today to discuss the government's latest moves in the area of early intervention, crime and punishment and outline the About Time strategy which I remain hopeful will one day be fully embraced by all parties in Parliament - because it is such common sense.
For those with audio access, Nine To Noon will have a transcript posted on its Website:
Turning tide against alcohol, other drug abuse is fundamental early intervention
Research presented during a recent National Social Norms Conference held in Colorado, offered insights into overseas efforts to successfully reduce high-risk drinking behaviour among young people. The social norms approach is based on the idea that much of an individual's behaviour is influenced by his or her perception of what is normal among his or her social group. If that perception is incorrect, as is often the case, and an unhealthy behaviour is perceived to be normal, more individuals participate in that behaviour to "conform with peers."
Much of the cyncial advertizing aimed at young people completely fails to be honest by providing either the whole story about the potential effects of over-consumption or the truth about what is normal, acceptable behaviour. In North America it is of course not legal for teenagers to walk into a corner dairy or bar and buy alcohol.
One of the reasons that Progressive supports raising the legal purchasing age to 20 is that it would encourage 16, 17, 18 and 19 year olds to have their early experiences of alcohol at home with their families around the dinner table - learning about the fun side of social drinking among loving parents. Of course the alcohol lobby is against the wishes of the majority of New Zealanders on this because they fear they might lose a few dollars.
Strong jobs growth in June Quarter
On Monday, the household labour force survey reported an outstanding report card on the state of the jobs market -employment growth stood at astounding 1% in the three month period, there was also big lift in hours worked (1.4%) and a new record was achieved in New Zealand's employment or "participation" rate (66.3%).
These are incredible results. When Progressive promoted, and achieved against Labour's initial opposition, Four Weeks Annual Leave, we knew that this would not only assist working families but also would assist the economy because more flexible labour laws that take account of families' real requirements will encourage people to look for jobs that otherwise would give up because it is too hard.
National and its side kick ACT opposed the junior partner in this progressive coalition government's policies to extend workers an extra week's annual paid leave as well as this government's introduction, then progressive extention, of paid parental leave entitlements. It is this government that understands the need to marry workers' rights and the needs of a dynamic economy. The Reactionary Opposition is stuck in the Dark Ages.
Who or What is Jacqui Dean?
Can anyone tell me who, or what, is Jacqui Dean? This alleged person, claiming to be an MP, wrote a "frustrated" letter (direct quote) to media complaining about the lack of progress over her petition demanding Party Pills be made illegal. This alleged MP bitterly says "the government's Health Select Committee" is conducting an inquiry into childhood obesity but that party pills pose "a far more immediate danger to our young people than how many burgers they might eat".
This is seriously weird. The Health Select Committee of Parliament isn't "the government's," but a multi-party committee upon which some very important National MPs sit - including, I understand, Opposition MPs who earlier this year asked for more copies of the Associate Health Minister's excellent, cheaply-produced pamphlet detailing where young people can get help if they have drug problems.
National and ACT stone-walled Progressive attempts to put an R-18 restriction on party pills just a couple of years ago, I remember because I was there, and in any case the empirical evidence is that childhood obesity is perhaps the most serious health issue facing all developed societies - which is perhaps why the multiparty select committee thinks it a tad more important that a petition demanding party pills be made illegal. In the meantime, the biggest drug problem facing young people is alcohol and hopefully Ms Dean will not outlaw alcohol, but perhaps settle for raising the alcohol purchasing age to 20?
Thank goodness the killing has stopped
Over 1,200 innocent civilians have been killed over the past month in the Middle East.
Nearly all major civilian infrastructure of the Lebanon, by far the most democratic member of the Arab League, is in ruins, and over 700,000 of its 3.8 million people displaced - some taking refugee in the Palestine refugee camps that have been in the country since 1948 because their homeland, Israel, won't let them return home - while others fled to Syria or Cyprus and, in all likelihood, many won't return to settle but will emigrate.
The view of many experts is that Lebanon will descend into civil war and chaos, like the Gaza which has also experienced U.S.-funded IDF foreign policy bombardments, but that isn't a universal view. Here are links to two Websites that became famous last year during Lebanon's democracy movement and campaign to remove the Syrian Army from the country:
The news from the Palestine Authority is that, with its elected senior ministers, and many Members of Parliament, arrested and the authority cut off financially due to the U.S.-led embargo, the Gaza and West Bank are now in close to total chaos and lawlessness.
Israeli progressives provide information and alternative commentary on the ongoing devastation of the Palestinian land and people in the Territories on this Website.
Meanwhile, the US/UK War On Terror in Occupied Iraq
Several journalists in Kirkuk have accused American-led Iraqi security forces of assaulting them and their crews as they try to report on the worsening security situation in the American-occupied northern Iraqi city. In at least six separate incidents since June, Iraqi reporters said they had been physically beaten, had their equipment confiscated and been accused of, yes you got it, accused of terrorism.