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Robson-on-Politics: Budget 2007 Special

Robson-on-Politics: Budget 2007 Special

May 17 2007

Progressive Party Budget 2007 initiatives

The Progressive Party has, from its inception, been a strong advocate of effective early intervention.

For the eighth consecutive year, Jim Anderton has shown the practical, positive difference that can be made to the coalition government Budget process available to smaller parties that do their homework and can use reason and logic to win backing for progressive initiatives.

Over the past seven days, Jim has outlined a host of initiatives that have succeeded in winning the financial backing of the coalition government, and a majority in Parliament.

Campaign against the misuse of drugs

On Friday, the Progressive Party leader announced an investment of $5.9 million over the next four years for a social marketing campaign to raise awareness of the risks of taking drugs and an online drug evidence database that will back it up.

The campaign will focus on reducing the demand for drugs, and not just for the newer drugs but also for well-established drugs such as cannabis.

Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the country and there appears to be a very troubling and over-riding perception that it is harmless, when there is much research both here and abroad to the contrary.

Further initiatives for suicide prevention programmes

Jim also announced $23.1 million over four years to support a range of suicide prevention initiatives as part of the implementation of the Suicide Prevention Strategy that was released last year. In an earlier Budget, the Progressive Party had secured funding for a depression awareness campaign, fronted by John Kirwan, and the latest initiative will build on that success with new programmes aimed at reaching a younger audience.

Progressives agenda for primary-based industries

Some of the most spectacular gains in productivity in any of the sectors of our economy over the past century have come not only from the primary-based industries of agriculture and horticulture - but also fisheries and forestry - they are by far the largest source of our merchandise exports each year.

There is a role for intelligent partnerships between companies, across regions, between the private and public sectors and between business and the research and science community to extract more and more productive gains from these critical areas of the economy.

The Progressive Party announced a number of Budget 2007 initiatives promoting this vital economic development work over the past seven days: A new research fund has been established to bolster New Zealand's international leadership position in helping the agriculture and forestry sectors respond to climate change:

Budget 2007 allocates funding to gather more information on commercial fish catches in coastal waters.

Budget 2007 sets aside $10 million over the next four years to fund a Sustainable Land Management (Hill Country Erosion) Framework: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.aspx?DocumentID=29285

We have allocated $37.4 million over the next four years on biosecurity measures that recognise the challenges posed by New Zealand's biosecurity border services in the face of global climate change which will probably increase the chances of exotic pests establishing themselves in Aotearoa.


In 2007, the Progressive Party continues to build on the gains for the economic development agenda that we have helped so much to put at the heart of the government since 1999.

Foreign Minister Peters announces boost to ODA

I also want to highlight the announcement by Foreign Minister Winston Peters on Monday - New Zealand's overseas aid budget is to increase by 69 per cent over the next four years - taking it to 0.35 of our Gross National Income by 2010-2011. This is a real step toward achieving our goal of giving 0.7 percent of gross national income in aid by 2015. Coupled with the coalition government's decision very early on in its administration to reduce to zero import tariffs on goods from least developed countries. Increasing the investment in the social and economic development of our region is good news for regional democracy, good news for regional stability and good news for New Zealand as well.

The NZ Herald quotes Peters as saying that he believed that NZAID (the Government's International Aid Development Agency) was well placed to manage the new funding. You will have to excuse my immodesty for pointing out that this specialist agency was created as my initiative when I was Associate-Minister of Foreign Affairs responsible for Overseas Aid.


Morgan Poll: Right-wing parties fractionally ahead

Some party members have expressed bewilderment at the New Zealand Herald's coverage of the Progressive initiatives. My response is to not get despondent. The New Zealand Herald's coverage of our party's budget initiatives is consistent with its coverage of our party in government - basically, no coverage.

I did a search on the Herald website for articles on "Jim Anderton" and, by way of contrast, the ACT Party leader "Rodney Hide" - ACT being a party that has no influence on government, no influence these days even on the Opposition National Party and a party that hasn't been inside the Cabinet room even for one minute since entering Parliament in 1996.

You know what? Rodney Hide has had much more coverage than the third-ranked Cabinet Minister in 2007. The Progressive leader, the Minister of Agriculture, hardly gets a mention. Half way through the year, if you type in "Jim Anderton" on the www.nzherald.co.nz website you'll find a couple of articles from the start of the year that basically accuse Jim of being "anti-American" because he responded to a journalist's question about how successful he rated the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq!

In our country, the foreign-owned media aren't carriers of real news - they are participants in the democratic process and they are relentlessly corrosive of MMP. The media reward coverage with stupid, destructive and mindless ramblings by silly small parties, but ignore the positive small parties that actually 'get things done'.

It is so vital that small parties resist the temptation to play to the foreign media's gameplan to reward the destruction of MMP and punish those that would make it work.

It is a challenging time for the centre-left.

The Morgan Poll yesterday found the National-United Future bloc would win a majority of 64 seats in a 124 seat Parliament.

The Labour-Green-Maori Party-Progressive bloc would win 59 seats. Our task, in spite of the media, is to turn that around which means gaining 3 seats to our side from the right-wing side over the next 18 months for an historic 4th term centre left government.


David Bain Justice at last!

Well almost if the Crown does not pursue another prosecution. And now it is time to follow up on the recommendation of Sir Thomas Thorpe, respected retired High Court judge, that a dedicated body is set up to consider cases where there is an apparent miscarriage of justice. There are a number of cases where there is doubt that justice has been carried out. One of them is that of Scott Watson in regard to the disappearance of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope in the Marlborough Sounds at New Year in 1998. Keith Hunter's book Trial by Trickery is very convincing that a gross miscarriage of justice has occurred in this case. I believe that Rodney Hide MP is now pursuing this issue. On obtaining the book go to www.hunterproductions.co.nz



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