If size doesn’t matter…
Well, it seems that we’re about to witness yet another broken promise from this shabby government. It seems that after three years, John Key, Bill English, and their mates were hoping we had forgotten their pledge “that National will not cut spending to education“.
Because now we have this,
It occurs to me that…
““I can tell you categorically that National will not cut spending to education,” the party’s education spokeswoman Anne Tolley said in a statement today.” – Anne Tolley, 5 August 2008
“Finance Minister Bill English is not ruling out an increase in class sizes, saying all Government departments are tasked with finding ways to save money, and staff costs are one of them.” – Bill English, 3 February 2012
Bill English’s comments that “there is clear evidence that class size does not significantly affect the quality of students’ education” is all rubbish, of course. Common sense will tell us that a teacher can give more attention to each child in a class of 20 – than s/he can in a class of 40. Especially if there are children with disabilities; special needs; or just plain disruptive kids in the room.
Professional studies confirm this common sense approach.
But even if it were true that “class size does not significantly affect the quality of students’ education” – can that rule-of-thumb be applied elsewhere?
What about… the government Cabinet?
New Zealand reportedly has one of the biggest Cabinets (ministers, and suchlike) for a country the size of ours,
Population: 4.4 million
British Cabinet: 23 (currently)
Population: 62.2 million
Ratio: 1/2.7 million
Population: 22.8 million
Ratio: 1/1.08 million
Irish Cabinet: 20
Population: 6.2 million
We have more Cabinet minister per head of population than Britain, Australia (Federal Parliament), and Ireland.
And it’s costing us truckloads of cash. Ministers of the Crown don’t come cheap these days,
How They’re Paid
Prime Minister - New salary (backdated to July 1): $411,510. Was: $400,500.
Deputy Prime Minister - New salary: $291,800. Was: $282,500.
Cabinet Minister - New salary: $257,800. Was: $249,100.
Minister Outside Cabinet - New salary: $217,200. Was: $209,100.
Speaker and Opposition Leader – New salary: $257,800. Was: $249,100.
Backbenchers – New salary: $141,800. Was: $134,800.
So, excluding the Prime Minister, 27 cabinet ministers is costing the tax-payer;
Deputy PM: 1 X $291,800 (p/a) = $291,800
Cabinet Ministers: 18 X $257,800 (p/a) = $4,640,400
Ministers Outside Cabinet: 8 X $217,200 = 1,737,600
Total cost of Cabinet, per annum (ex Prime Minister) = 6,669,800
Six point six million dollars each year. Throw in one smile & wave Prime Minister at $411,510 p/a, and the wages bill for that talkfest comes to over $7 million a year.
And that figure does not include allowances such as housing, superannuation, etc.
If we followed the Irish ratio, we would have fourteen ministers (including the PM), or, one Minister per 314,285 people (approximately). That would roughly halve the cost of Cabinet minister salaries.
And if a Minister needed assistance, there are another 106 or 108 (depending on over-hangs) MPs in Parliament who could assist with Ministerial duties (but still be paid a Back-bencher’s salary).
So what about it, Mr English?
If “class size does not significantly affect the quality of students’ education” then obviously, we should be able to apply precisely the same rule to Cabinet,
“Cabinet size does not significantly affect the quality of Ministers’ performance.“
And we could plow the $3.5 million (approximately) saved, plus ministerial perks, into training and hiring more teachers to educate our children.
We can start on Monday.