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robson-on-politics Fri 3 Oct

Following the Progressives' successful inaugural conference, robson-on-politics took a few days off. This week's edition highlights key conference events and discusses tariffs as the outcome of coalition negotiations.

CTU President Ross Wilson

"It is simply common sense that the union movement should work with social and political organizations pursuing similar social justice objectives" Ross Wilson, told conference. The Progressives have gladly accepted the co-operative hand of the CTU. Ross went on to outline the areas of common work with the Progressives including economic and regional development, reforming labour and social legislation and our joint campaign for four weeks annual leave for all. See:

and Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson

Joining the mood was Margaret Wilson who picked up on the four weeks annual leave theme. In her session on the Progressive-Labour coalition she said that four weeks is now a matter of "when" not "if" and that is due to the Progressives keeping this key reform for low-income workers firmly on the legislative agenda. She also told the tale of a TV reporter who suggested she would find a conference in a phone box. With over 180 delegates at the Waipuna Conference Centre, Margaret Wilson said "I'll go back and tell them it would have to be the world's largest telephone box."

All roads lead North

Far North Mayor Yvonne Sharp outlined how the regional development strategy led by Jim Anderton had put in place a roading programme pivotal to the total economic development of the long-neglected North.: "This partnership of industry, local and regional government , and government agencies has enabled the Northland Forest Industry to access forests that were difficult, if not near impossible , to access before." This in the Mayor's view "has provided a platform for future development." See:

Sir Howard Morrison was a hit not just because he led the singing (rather than Jim Anderton or myself) but because he showed clearly that New Zealand does not have a bright future unless Maori and Pacific young people are able to lift educational achievement, feel valued and can lift off from the enormous economic base that is available to Maori. The Progressive-led regional strategies for economic development have a real challenge to ensure that development for Maori and Pacific peoples, in partnership, is a central plank.

Tariffs in the national interest

This week's announcement follows the six year moratorium announced after the 1999 election by this pragmatic center-left coalition. Then we signaled that future tariff reductions would be influenced by factors including other economic development policies. After significant negotiations between Labour and the Progressives we have could up with a programme we collectively believe is in the national interest. What we rejected was a unilateral move to zero tariffs by 2010. The coalition will be working closely with textile, clothing, footwear and carpet industries to ensure that existing industrial development policies work for them. See:

Biotech, Globalisation And Justice

Back at conference, Professor Garth Cooper of Auckland University spoke on development of a biotech industry, safely using science to create jobs; Phil Twyford, former international Oxfam director and just back in New Zealand from the WTO meeting at Cancun spoke on globalisation and justice; and Lesley Max delivered a thought-provoking address on early intervention-policies to stop youngsters going off the rails. She went almost straight from the conference to an interview with Holmes TV programme on the same topic.

Didn't the Warriors do well, as I tell myself not to enter deep mourning, but to celebrate reaching the final four. More on this week's news, and Step Up scholarships and Primary Health Organisations funding for older people, can be found at

Step Up scholarships:

Health Funding for older people:

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