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Posts Tagged ‘Hekia Parata’

National MPs – giving us the finger in election year

18 July 2014 1 comment

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National MPs and ministers have been busy this year with more botch-ups, scandals, an attempted smear campaign, and spinning bullshit to cover their arses with multiple policy failures in health, education, the environment, child poverty, etc, etc, etc…

The fact that National still appears to be riding high in political polls speaks more for a population heavily sedated by trivia and superficial “news” reporting, and for mind-numbingly inane mass-entertainment – rather than any actual success.

Some of the more mind-blowing comments that have recently been made by National ministers have flown below the radar.

Amy Adams

Our so-called “Environment” Minister, Amy Adams, recently dismissed Dr Mike Joy’s criticisms of National’s new water standards.

Dr Joy stated;

But Dr Mike Joy, an environmental ecologist at Massey university, says the new standards are a “backwards step for fresh water”.

“You could just drive a truck through it,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

“There’s so many gaps, so many things we’ve been measuring up until now that they’ve dropped.”

The changes put limits on the amount of toxins and bacteria that can be present in water, which the Government says will require some communities and farms to improve their waste-disposal systems.

But the weakening of other limits were essentially a “licence to pollute,” Joy said, and would allow for a big increase in the amount of pollution in rivers.

“We’ve got a decline going on,” he said.

“Rivers are getting worse, lakes are getting worse. This should be something that puts the brakes on, but instead it’s an opening-up. It’s like lifting the speed limit from 50kmh to 500kmh – that’s the kind of level of change around nitrate pollution.”

Joy said more than 90 per cent of rivers in lowland areas – those coming from urban areas and farms – were already too dangerous to swim in.

To which Adams responded;

Ms Adams also corrected the Green Party’s and Dr Joy’s comparison of nitrogen levels in New Zealand’s lakes and rivers to those in the Yangtzee River.

“Although the Yangtze River indeed has serious pollution issues, nitrogen is not the core pollutant there.

In fact, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the primary issue for the Yangtze River is industrial and sewage waste and the management of sediments, rather than nitrogen.”

What the World Wide Fund for Nature (which Adams mis-quoted) really stated was;

“The major pollutants in the Yangtze mainstem are suspended substances, oxidizing organic and inorganic compounds, and ammonia nitrogen. This has severely reduced drinking water quality and contributed to dramatic eutrophication.”

And from the Science Daily;

For the first time, a team including foreign scientists was authorized by the Chinese government to study water quality on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River…

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For example, nitrogen concentrations have approximately doubled over the past 20 years. In Shanghai, concentrations of dissolved nitrogen were twice as high as at the Three Gorges Dam, reflecting the increasing use of mineral fertilizers in agriculture…

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However, where the river enters the East China Sea, the huge pollutant loads are expected to have devastating effects: each day, 1500 tonnes of nitrogen is discharged, causing eutrophication and growth of blue-green algae in the coastal waters…

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In the Yangtze, concentrations of nitrogen, metals and organic compounds are increasing, as shown by comparisons with earlier measurements in the literature.

As usual with right-wingers, it pays to check their “facts”. They’re usually bullshit. (As well as batshit crazy.)

Dr Mike Joy – 1

Amy Adams – 0

Paula Bennett

Bennett seems not to know where she stands on the problem of New Zealand’s hidden rape culture.

On 10 July, on TV3′s Third Degree, Bennett accepted the reality of our rape culture;

And you can see it in the language that is used by some people. You can certainly see it in pretty much a pub or a nightclub in New Zealand on most weekends to be quite frank. So we have a lot of education to do there, I think.”

Two days later, she changed her mind, this time on TV3′s The Nation;

I wouldn’t say that we’ve got a rape culture or a sexual violence culture in New Zealand…

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I think what we do in New Zealand is we report more [sexual violence] than any other country. So actually some of those that are being reported are incidences that haven’t even led to violence.”

On 10 July, on Third Degree,  Bennett accepted that her government had failed Tania Billingsley;

Could things have been handled differently? We’re the first ones that have said yes it should have been. But for her I feel incredibly sad that the incident has happened in the beginning. And that’s where most of her hurt and anger is.”

Again, after two days, Bennett’s views seemed to have changed, as this exchange on The Nation showed;

Lisa Owen: “Ok, so how do you think that your male colleagues handled the alleged assault on Tania Billingsley and the departure of the Malaysian diplomat? Did they lose sight of the victim? Did they trivialise that?

Paula Bennett: “Well look I’m not prepared to go into what has happened in that case.  But my short answer to that would be no.”

How can a politician not keep her story straight within only a 48 hour period?!

Then again, this is the same politician who made full use of the Training Incentive Allowance to gain a free University education for herself – and then promptly dumped it in 2009.

Paula Bennett (2.0)

On TV’s The Nation, Lisa Owen took Paula Bennett to task on our growing endemic rate of child poverty. Owen pointed out to Bennett;

“…people like Jonathan Boston say that eradicating poverty is a political choice. Is it just that you’re not making a big enough political choice? A billion dollars, an extra billion dollars a year he said will make an enormous dent in this.”

To which Bennett replied with the stock-standard come-back from right-wing witless politicians;

I don’t think it’s throwing more money at it across the board if you like…

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It is not going to be throwing more money at those on welfare...”

Because, as we all know, “throwing money” at the poorest in our society apparently doesn’t work to pull children out of poverty.

But “throwing money” at corporations such as Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, Charter Schools,  et al, to “create jobs” or give “choice for better education” to parents, does work.

Or “throwing money” at people by way of tax cuts works to “stimulate the economy“.

Strangely, “throwing money” at welfare beneficiaries -  by way of a Training Incentive Allowance -  helped former solo-mother,  Paula Bennett, obtain a free tertiary education and she is currently (until 20 September) a  highly-remunerated Minister of the Crown.

So why is “throwing money” by way of corporate welfare; tax-cuts; Charter school subsidies, etc, a ‘good‘ thing – but “throwing money” at poverty to eliminate this scourge from 21st century New Zealand – is a ‘bad‘ thing?!

National ministers have yet to answer this question.

God knows we “throw enough money” at them with their generous salaries.

Simon Bridges

This was one of National’s  election platforms in 2011;

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National Party staying strong on crime

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Staying strong on crime“.

Except when National decides that a particular law is “inconvenient”. Then it will instruct it’s ministeries not to prosecute offenders. As Minister Simon Bridges recently instructed the Labour Inspectorate;

 

Radio New Zealand has obtained documents under the Official Information Act which show the Labour Inspectorate has moved away from the proactive approach to enforcement and has redistributed its efforts to crack down on illegial migrant workers.

Traditionally labour inspectors have been out on the streets at Easter, catching out shop owners who open illegally, but will now wait for members of the public to complain about shops being open and will follow those up with warning letters.

Special briefing notes from the Labour Inspectorate General Manager George Mason to the minister show the inspectorate has questioned the effectiveness of the shop trading act, which allows for a $1,000 penalty for breaches of the law.

In many cases the judicial system was reluctant to impose the maximum fine, Mr Mason told the minister.

He said in recent years not many complaints from the public were received and this year not a single shop was prosecuted for opening at Easter.

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But Simon Bridges said shops can still be prosecuted and will be if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary.

The law will be upheld – if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary?!

When a government will not uphold the law because it conflicts with their own ideological stance – then why have laws at all?

And can the rest of us pick and choose which laws are convenient to uphold, and which we can break?

It appears so…

Mr Bridges is showing us the way.

Murray McCully

After the debacle of the Malaysian diplomat, accused of burglary and attempted rape, and the question over why Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully failed to keep track over events in his own ministry, an inquiry was launched on 11 July.

McCully stated;

A thorough and transparent inquiry is important, as those managing diplomatic immunity issues for the Government need to enjoy the full, unfettered confidence of the New Zealand public.”

Although one wonders just how “ thorough and transparent” any inquiry will be when,

  1. The terms of reference do not include Murray  McCully’s actions. This effectively gives the minister an ‘escape clause’ from the fiasco.
  2. John Key has already pre-determined who the guilty party is, within the Ministry,  when he stated on 4 July; “If that person doesn’t have clarity about that position then they need to think very strongly about whether they’re in the right job.”
  3. Rob Hosking from the National Business Review suggested that the Inquiry will “not likely to be [completed] before the September 20 election”. How ‘convenient’.

Hekia Parata

On 8 June 2012, as National’s planned to increase class-room sizes blew up in their faces with a combined teacher-parent revolt, I wrote;

Parata’s Plan to cut teaching staff and increase classroom sizes was dressed up as “improving teaching quality and professional leadership” – which was exposed as patent bollocks when she stated,

  “The changes to teacher:student funding ratios were to have saved the Government around $174 million over four years, of which $60 million was going to be invested in improving teaching quality and professional leadership.”

Sacking Parata for policies that every other Minister has been implementing seems pointless. Especially when National’s essential policy of cutting expenditure and services would remain unchanged.

That is the real crux of the matter; an ongoing programme of  reduction in  social services because of two tax cuts we could ill afford, and which National was irresponsible in making.

Two years later: On 7 July, Radio NZ’s Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson, spoke to National’s  accident-prone Hekia Parata and put it to her that Labour’s plans  to reduce class-room sizes by 2018 were proving very popular with parents. Ferguson pointed out that Labour’s policy was in direct opposition with Parata’s  humiliating failure to increase class-room sizes.

At 3.05 into the interview, Parata replied,

And at the time we were in a different fiscal environment and we were focusing right then on how did we find the money to invest in quality. And now we’re in a better fiscal environment, we can do both,both more teachers and more quality...”

Which is confirmation, if any was needed, that National’s plans to reduce teacher numbers and increase class-room sizes was nothing more than an outrageous cost-cutting exercise. Happily, it failed as New Zealanders stood up, en masse, and told National,

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New Zealanders were not prepared to sacrifice their children’s learning and future on the alter to National’s cost-cutting. If Key and his cronies were foolish enough to cut taxes as part of their 2008 election bribes, it was most certainly not going to be paid for by the children of the middle classes.

So far, #Teamkey seems to be going ‘swimmingly’ well.

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References

Fairfax media: Water rule changes seen as ‘licence to pollute’

World Wildlife Fund: Threat of Pollution in the Yangtze

Science Daily: First-ever Precise Data On Yangtze Water Quality

TV3: Minister agrees with diplomat’s alleged victim

TV3: The Nation Interview – Paula Bennett (transcript)

NBR: Bennett cutting a benefit that helped her – Labour

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

Scoop media: Warner Brothers Hobbit Deal a $67 Milllion Farce

NZ Herald: Editorial – Charter schools will give poorer parents choice

Beehive.govt.nz: Government delivers April 1 tax cuts, SME changes

Radio NZ: Govt defends trading law enforcement

Dominion Post: Malaysian diplomat case inquiry head named

NZ Herald: Diplomat case: Court file released

TV3: Ministerial inquiry launched into diplomat case

Interest.co.nz: Key suggests mid-level MFAT diplomat “considers career options”

NBR: McCully announces inquiry into MFAT’s handling of Malaysian diplomat allegations

Scoop media:  Teacher funding ratios to remain the same

Radio NZ:  Listen Hekia Parata on Morning Report

Radio NZ:  Labour pledges to reduce class sizes

Previous related blogposts

Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked

Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy


 

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Kirk

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 July 2014.

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Review: TV3′s The Nation – When current affairs gets it right

20 June 2014 1 comment

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After my uncompromising critique of an episode of TV’s The Nation, broadcast on 24 May, I was gratified and relieved that the producers and hosts of the programme had returned to a degree of journalistic/media professionalism that we should expect as the norm for current affairs in this country (and which is too often lacking).

The Nation, broadcast on 14 June, was good, solid, current affairs which left the viewer better informed after watching it. Hosts Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower, and reporter Torben Akel,  were on form with their respective interviews.

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Hosts for TV3's "The Nation", Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

Hosts for TV3′s “The Nation”, Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

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First up; Hekia Parata, on what is rapidly devolving into another of National’s disastrous, ill-considered attempts to insert neo-liberal “reforms” into our education sector. National’s $359 million  so-called “Teaching & leadership career pathways” has been roundly condemned by the  primary school staff union, NZEI, and the Principals Federation asserting that it is unacceptable and unworkable.

Parata responded to questioning from Patrick Gower;

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The Nation - Patrick Gower - Hekia Parata - TV3 - National - education

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Hekia Parata]

A decidedly ‘robotic’ performance from an automaton-like Hekia Parata. (Have National Party strategists and contract scientists actually built a look-a-like android  replacement replacement for Parata, to minimise potential stuff-ups from the mishap-prone education minister? And how did they make the android more realistic than the original?!)

Whether she actually convinced teachers and parents watching her performance is doubtful. When politicians avoid giving direct answers to questions, the inescapable conclusion is that they’re hiding something.

What is Parata hiding?

Perhaps the very real likelihood that the so-called “Teaching & leadership career pathways” policy is National attempt to introduce performance-pay-by-stealth?

In fact, my money is precisely on that call: performance-pay-by-stealth.

At any rate, she stayed on-message, and it was fairly obvious that Parata had been well-schooled by her tax-payer funded media-minders. She passed National’s Standard for evasiveness to questions.

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Next up, a serious look at one of this country’s worst pressing social problems – child poverty. The Right can bleat on about “SkyTV aerials”; ill-informed moralists who lead ‘saintly lives’ can pass judgement on “poor parenting”, and  the middle classes can turn a blind eye – but none of that will diminish a growing social crisis in our midst.

Prior to the introduction of neo-liberalism; the “free” market; de-regulation; and “more choices”, the term “child poverty” was unknown. Food banks barely existed, as this 2005 Child Poverty Action Group report pointed out;

There have always been foodbanks in Auckland, but until recently these were small- scale operations and, like the soup kitchens, were there to deal with emergencies and the requirements of the handful of indigents that have always been present in the urban areas of New Zealand. Data from the Presbyterian Support Services Foodlink Directory5 shows there were 16 foodbanks in Auckland in 1989. By 1994 this had mushroomed to over 130 (Mackay, 1995).

Nationally, the number of foodbanks exploded following the 1991 benefit cuts, and the passage of the Employment Contracts Act (ECA). For those in already low-paid and casual jobs, the ECA resulted in even lower wages (McLaughlin, 1998), a situation exacerbated by the high unemployment of the early 1990s (11% in 1991). The benefit cuts left many with debts, and little money to buy food (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999). In 1992 the introduction of market rents for state houses dealt another blow to state tenants on low incomes. By 1994 it was estimated that there were about 365 foodbanks nationally, one-fifth of which had been set up in the previous year (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999). This figure was an estimate, based on information from the 1994 foodbank conference. There were no nationally collated figures, a weakness that persists in the sector today.

Regarding what in some cases was a quadrupling of demand for food parcels after 1991, Mackay cautiously hypothesizes that “it is likely that much of it was driven by the benefit cuts of April 1991” (Mackay, 1995). Foodbank workers themselves were unequivocal that the 1991 benefit cuts were the key driver of increased foodbank use. Reflecting those most likely to be unemployed or on low wages, up to 90% of foodbank users were dependent upon some form of income support, and Maori and Pacific Island families were over- represented among those seeking assistance (Mackay, 1995).

Lisa Owen interviewed Jonathan Boston (Professor of Public Policy at Vic, co-chair of Child Poverty Expert Advisory Group), who has written New Zealand’s first book on Child Poverty in this country. That interview was followed up by Commissioner for Children, Dr Russell Wills.

 

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TV3 - The Nation - Lisa Owen - Interview Dr Russell Wills

L-R: Lisa Owen & Dr Wills; Lisa Owen and Jonathan Boston

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Jonathan Boston & Russell Wills]

Both interviews made for compelling, informative viewing.

Dr Wills  and Prof Boston are professionals; academics;  with a deep understanding of problems and issues confronting our society. Neither men have a political agenda – theirs is simply to inform anyone who will listen that child poverty is a problem we can no longer afford to ignore.

Dr Wills made this simple statement in a level, calm tone – but which was nevertheless dramatic for it’s content;

“My weekend will be full of poor mostly Maori and Pacific preschool children with infectious diseases that our English registrars often haven’t even seen before. Now we see acute rheumatic fever. We see tuberculosis.  We have admissions to intensive care with children with illnesses that should have been treated in primary care but they couldn’t afford to go. We just don’t see those kinds of issues in our elderly people and I think that’s a great shame.”

I wonder, though,  if the inquisatorial approach taken by Lisa Owen to interview Messrs Wills and Boston was applicable in this instance? The inquisatorial style works well for political or activist public figures who may not always be forthcoming in disclosing facts.
But when it comes to academics and professionals such as Professor Boston and Dr Wills, I submit that such people will usually always  be forthcoming, even when academics are often loathe to talk in terms of absolutes, or provide simplistic answers to complex questions.
For example, Lisa Owen asked Dr Wills;

OWEN: But these are tight financial times as you would appreciate; you have said previously the questions is: are we prepared to give up something for the vulnerable. So who is the ‘we’ that has to give up something?

WILLS: It’s people like us Lisa. The fact is that we have large numbers of poor children in New Zealand who are missing out on things that our kids take for granted. So the kids that I see on the children’s ward often live in cold, damp, crowded houses. They often can’t afford to go to the GP. They commonly don’t have their own bed. They frequently all crowd around together in the living room to sleep.

OWEN: I appreciate what you’re saying there but when you say it’s people like us, that’s a nebulous concept. Don’t we need to pin down where this money is going to come from? Isn’t super or capping or raising the age, isn’t that a place where we can get a certain lot of money?
There was something a little  disturbing about the suggestion that “when you say it’s people like us, that’s a nebulous concept“.

It’s almost as if Lisa Owen had taken Margaret Thatcher’s dogma (“there is no such thing as society“)  and applied the notion to the question. Has New Zealand society become so individualised; so fragmented – that it is now a “nebulous concept“?

Sometimes we learn more from the interviewers than from  the people they are charged with interviewing.
Both men had a wealth of insights and knowledge to share with the audience. Their interviews could easily have been doubled in length to facilitate deeper under-standing of the issues involved. Perhaps canning Hekia Parata’s drivel would have provided extra time?
The audience would certainly have ended up better informed. (We already understand the fact that politicians often spout rubbish; talking a lot, but saying nothing.)

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Next up; the one and only (some might breath a sigh of relief at that), Colin Craig. Perhaps one of the oddest political aspirants to hit our political stage in recent times, Colin Craig had some very strange things to say in his interview;
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The Nation - Patrick Gower - Colin Craig - Conservative Party - TV3 - National - election 2014

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Colin Craig]

Gower started the interview with this bizarre exchange – almost reminiscent of a school Head Master dressing down an errant pupil;

Patrick Gower: I want to start with this extraordinary political cry for help that you made this week, effectively asking the Prime Minister to pull a candidate out of a seat for you.

Colin Craig: I didn’t do that.

Gower: Yes you did.

Craig: No, I didn’t.

I was expecting an impatient, testy, Gower to stand, pick up a nearby cane, and instruct  Craig,

Gower: Right boy, that’ll be enough fibbing! Bend over for six of the best!

Craig, of course, supports beating children, so this scenario would not be entirely implausible. And no one would have blamed Gower in the least.

Gower then asked Craig this salient question;

Gower: So which one of those could you beat? Which one of those three candidates could you beat? And tell the truth.

To which Craig responded;

Craig: Well look, I don’t think I could beat any of them unless we run a fantastic local campaign and people get behind us. Last time I –

Interesting.

Interesting because of what was not said, rather than what was.  No outrage over “dirty deals” in this interview, as Mr Gower expressed recently regarding the Mana-Internet alliance;

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance

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And…

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance (2)

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I suspect, however, that the difference in style in Gower’s critiquing the deals between the Right – and that between Mana and Internet (no deals in recent times  have been proven between Labour and other parties on the Left, despite claims) -  is not so much a matter of bias, rather one of common acceptance.

In short, we are used to an ex-trader Prime Minister doing behind-the-scenes deals so it is the ‘norm‘ when the Right does it.

But not the ‘norm’ for the Left because, to date, such deal-making has been rare.

Unfair?

Yes, of course it is.

But nothing will ever change because (a) the public have more or less accepted such political wheeling-and-dealing as par-for-course amongst right-leaning politicians and their parties;  (b) it serves the interests of the Right, and (c) the media can get stuffed (in the eyes of the Right) because in the end, what matters is political power – not  chest-thumping from a few media talking-heads.

That’s the way it is.

The Left can (a) adapt and engage in their own deal-making or (b) remain “above it all”;  maintain a holier-than-thou attitude; and hope the voting public notice and duly reward them with their votes. Option ‘B’ is like going to a gunfight armed with a knife and hoping the gun misfires. There is no Option ‘C’.

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The last interview, by Torben Akel,  with Todd Barclay – the National candidate replacing outgoing MP, Bill English in Southland – was perhaps the most curious.

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The Nation - Torben Akel - Todd Barclay - Southland electorate TV3 - National - election 2014

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At only 24, Todd  Barclay is one of Parliament’s youngest MPs. In itself, this not a negative factor, as we need representation from and for young people in our House of Representatives.

What was at issue was Barclay’s relative lack of life experience.

As Torben Akel asked in a introduction voice-over,

“But age aside, does Barclay have the real world experience to be an MP. Or does he represent the rise of an insulated careerist political class?”

National’s own website highlights Barclay’s limited life-experience;

Working in Wellington and then Auckland, Todd worked for Bill English and cabinet ministers Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee. He left Parliament to work for one of New Zealand’s leading public relations consultancies, before taking on a role as Corporate Affairs Manager for Philip Morris.

To be fair, one has to wonder just how much life experience a person can achieve by age 24. Though Barclay’s experience, thus far seems constrained to working for various ministers in Parliament and for a tobacco company that peddles products that kill people.

Not exactly a CV to be proud of.

In fact, it could be said that politics and public relations revolve around manipulating reality rather than living in it.

All up, a good interview; low-key and yet illuminating. Torben Akel did a good job presenting the person and his record, and then let the viewer decide for him/herself what to make of this young man.

Now it’s up to Southlanders if this is who they want as their representative.

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Postscript #1

The parameters “child poverty” nz  on Google returns 178,000 results;

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child poverty - google results - Google - search engine - new zealand - nz

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Not exactly something to be proud of, eh, New Zealand?

Postscript #2

It is has been said before and it is worth repeating again; the greatest disservice that TVNZ and TV3 programming managers have done to the viewing public; their own staff; and to their entire network is to ‘ghettoise’  “The Nation” and “Q+A” on early morning and late night time-slots in the weekends.

Maori TV schedules “Native Affairs” on Monday evenings  at  8.30pm.  This suggests that the management at Maori TV have sufficient faith in their ‘product’ that they are willing to give it a prime time viewing slot.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for TVNZ and TV3.

(And no, we will not settle for “Seven Sharp” or “The Paul Henry Show“.)

Postscript #3

National’s media release on it’s “Teaching & leadership career pathways” was published on it’s on party website; the Beehive website; and on Scoop Media. There’s a slight ‘risk’ in publishing an official party policy communique on an independent website – you never quite know what else is going to appear alongside the text;

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scoop media - internet party - 359m for teaching  leadership career pathways - national party - government - education (1)

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I’m sure Parata, Key, et al in the National Party would be “delirious with joy” at having a political advert for Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party nested within their pride and joy educational policy statement release…

… Not!

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References

Beehive: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Radio NZ: NZEI, principals unite against policy

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Education Minister Hekia Parata

TV3 The Nation: Interview transcript – Education Minister Hekia Parata

Salvation Army: Hard to swallow – Child Poverty Action Group

BWB Books: Child Poverty in New Zealand

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Jonathan Boston & Russell Wills

Wikiquote:  Margaret Thatcher

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Conservative Party leader Colin Craig

Twitter: Patrick Gower

TV3 The Nation: The new breed of career MPs

National Party: National Selects Todd Barclay For Clutha-Southland

National Party: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Beehive: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Scoop Media: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Previous related blogposts

Review: TV3′s The Nation – “Let them eat ice cream!”

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Additional

Facebook: Inside Child Poverty

Bryan Bruce: How to vote strategically improves children’s lives

Child Poverty Action Group

 

Events

Tuesday 17 June, 5.30pm
Panel discussion with Jonathan Boston,
Damon Salesa, Susan St John and Russell Wills. Chaired by Tracey McIntosh.
Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland
26 Wynyard St, Auckland

Thursday 19 June, 8.00am – 4.00pm
Inequality: Causes and Consequences
Student Union Memorial Lecture Theatre
Victoria University of Wellington

Friday 20 June, 5.30pm
Lecture and book launch
Speakers include: Justine Cornwall, Jonathan Boston, and Cathy Wylie
Royal Society of New Zealand
11 Turnbull St, Thorndon, Wellington


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 June 2014.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 24 March 2014

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- Politics on Nine To Noon -

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- Monday 24 March 2014 -

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- Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams -

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Will The Mana party and The Internet party form an alliance?

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (25′ 54″ )

  • Mana Party
  • Internet Party
  • Hone Harawira
  • Kim Dotcom
  • The Alliance
  • Sue Bradford
  • Roy Morgan Poll
  • Shane Jones, Winston Peters, NZ First, The Green Parrot Restaurant
  • Hekia Parata, Kohanga Reo National Trust, performance pay for teachers
  • Ernst Young, Serious Fraud Office, PISA Education Ratings
  • Judith Collins, Oravida
  • John Key, China, Fran O’Sullivan, Rod Oram
  • Labour Party, Forestry policy, Red Stag Timber, government procurement

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 21 March 2014

23 March 2014 2 comments

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- Focus on Politics -

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- Friday 21 March 2014  -

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- Jane Patterson -

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

The Education Minister has once again found herself at the centre of a political storm, after allegations relating to the Kohanga Trust Board’s commercial arm, have ended up with the Serious Fraud Office.

The question is; when does public money cease to be public?

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 21 March 2014 ( 17′  28″ )

  • Hekia Parata, Pita Sharples
  • Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board, Te Pataka Ohanga
  • Ernst & Young report
  • Serious Fraud Office
  • Derek Fox

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Good luck to Phillipstown School!

It was almost exactly a month ago that the Ministry of Education – at the behest of this shabby,  poor-excuse-for-a-government, announced the closure and “merger” of several schools in Christchurch;

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Tears, shock as Chch school mergers announced - TV3 - 29 May 2013

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Tears, shock as Chch school mergers announced

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Phillipstown School was one of three schools chosen to “merge” with others – in effect another closure.

However, tonight (30 June),  Phillipstown School will be following in the footsteps of Salisbury School (see previous blogpost:  Why Salisbury School was right to be wary of this government) in refusing to take this threat to their existence lying down.  In a press release today, Phillipstown School made it’s position crystal clear,

The Board of Phillipstown School will be filing judicial review proceedings in the Christchurch High Court on Monday.  The School is seeking a declaration that the Minister of Education’s decision to close Phillipstown school and merge it with Woolston school from the beginning of 2014 is illegal and in breach of the Education Act 1989.

Acknowledgement: Scoop Media – Phillipstown School launches Judicial Review

As Board of Trustees Chairperson, Wayne West, said on Scoop Media,

The Minister’s decision appears to be based on mistakes of fact. The statutory consultation required with the School and with the parents of students was also illegal because the officials refused to give us the information needed to respond to claims about the costs of remediating the earthquake damage at the school, and other property related issues. The Minister cited both of these as key reasons for her decision.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

As this blogger has pointed out previously, it seems to be the height of callousness and indifference to the stress and suffering of Christchurch people over the past two years.  With two major earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks; damaged infra-structure; disrupted services; closed or struggling businesses; and the heart of the city all but destroyed – National Ministers seem content to  add human-imposed misery upon Cantabrians.

This is the worst possible time to be “rationalising” any public service in that city.

I believe that National will suffer badly in the next election if they persevere with their appallingly-concocted plans.

This blogger supports schools in Christchurch; the staff; the parents, and children, to help preserve their already stressed communities. They deserve support and assistance – not further under-mining of public services.

I hope their request for a Judicial Review is successful.

And I hope that National MPs in the Canterbury electorates receive the full opprobrium of  voters,  at the next election,  for their shameful conduct. Perhaps it is time for Cantabrians to send a “seismic political shock” to this government?

Good luck, Phillipstown School!

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Previous related blogposts

Four schools to close in Aranui, Christchurch

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Why Salisbury School was right to be wary of this government

24 June 2013 3 comments

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salisbury school logo

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Background

It was on 31 October last year that  Education Minister, Hekia Parata, announced her decision to close both  Salisbury School in Nelson and McKenzie Residential School in Christchurch. Both were schools specialising in support high-needs children with varying degrees of disabilities. Parata said,

After carefully considering all the information provided to me, including the responses from the schools, and information provided at my meetings with the Boards of the schools, I have decided to close the two schools. 

At the very heart of this difficult decision lies the opportunity to provide services and support for more children with complex needs in their local community. We can link local services with the remaining residential provision to achieve a more personalised and high quality approach for children and their families.

I am satisfied that this combination of services will make sufficient provision for all children with special education needs both locally and nationally.”

Acknowledgment – Beehive – Final decision on residential special schools announced

In an attempt to alleviate shock and disbelief throughout the country, Parata offered an alternative – a so-call “Intensive Wraparound Service“,

The Intensive Wraparound Service will be extended to support students with complex needs to remain in their community and attend their local school. The service will be based in every region with a trained facilitator, usually a psychologist

[...]

Funding from closing the two residential schools will be redirected into the Intensive Wraparound Service. The net result will be better support for more students and keeping communities together.”

Acknowledgment – IBID

The parents and staff of Salisbury students would have none of it. Parata’s decision to close the school and merge with co-ed Halswell Residential School in Christchurch. Female students would be relocated to mix with male students.

The implications of such a move did not escape parents and teaches. They realised that mixing highly vulnerable girls – many with considerable mental disabilities – with boys and adolecent young teenagers, was a potential  for disaster. There was grave risk of sexual abuse, amongst other problems (I refuse to call them “issues”.)

Salisbury school and parents rejected the planned closure.

On 26 November last year, Salisbury school mounted a legal challenge to Parata’s decision.

By 11 December, a Court decision ruled that National’s move to close the  school was unlawful. Justice Robert Dobson condemned Parata’s descision because of  “the prospect of greater risk of sexual or physical abuse“.

On 22 May, this year, Parata had fully backed down and announced that her Ministry would not be appealing the Court decision. Parata gave this gobbledegook statement to the media,

‘‘The arguments that we were making at the time were valid and remain valid, but a different decision has now been made, and I am pleased for Salisbury that that is the case, and keen now to resume normal transmission.’’

Acknowledgment – Nelson Mail -  U-turn stuns, delights Salisbury

Salisbury School won the battle, with Courts accepting that  female students would be put at risk by attending a co-ed school.

One also had to question the reality of  any so-called “Intensive Wraparound Service” that Parata had promised.

Intensive Wraparound Service

In a May 2012 Ministry of Education report (Development of a new intensive wraparound special education), the author wrote,

Two Residential Special Schools also provide an outreach service4. Salisbury’s service caters for a minimum of 30 students, while Halswell School caters to a maximum of 36 students.

Figures from 2010 show the Government invested approximately $84,200 in each student who attended a Residential Special School in the year.

This figure contrasts with an annual investment of approximately $7,700 in each student who attends a state and integrated (or non-residential) school or approximately $29,000 for each student who meets the criteria to receive support through an intensive wrap-around service.

Note the figures mentioned;

Residential School Student: $84,200 per student

State/Integrated School Student: $7,700 per student

Intensive wrap-around service Student: $29,000 per student

So by relocating special needs students from Salisbury to a mainstream school, with so-called “Intensive wrap-around” support, there was a saving to the State of $55,200 per student.

It is not beyond suspicion that the attempted closure of Salisbury School; with attendent risk to female students; was a particularly nasty attempt at cost-cutting by this bottom-line focused government.

Indeed, more than a suspicion, the report clearly stated,

It is important to note the new service:

- provides an opportunity to use existing funding in new ways, achieving better value for money and more efficient use of resources

This government appears to be content to play with peoples’ lives to save a few bucks.

Current Issues

Later  in  May this year, there were revelations that several Whangarei schools were unable to cope with severely disturbed – and violent – young students. Radio NZ reported,

A Whangarei school principal says a system designed to improve support for at-risk children appears to be bogged down in paperwork.

The Gateway programme began two years ago to co-ordinate the roles of Child, Youth and Family, doctors, schools and mental health services for children in care.

But Horahora primary school principal Pat Newman said from what he has seen, the gateway is blocked.

He said he has been trying since March to get an assessment for a young pupil with serious anger problems who hurts other children on a daily basis.

Mr Newman said various agencies have filed their observations about the boy and though he clearly needs specialist help, there has been no action. Now his classmates are afraid of him and have begun to exclude him.

Child, Youth and Family said it understood the boy was doing well at school, but if his Gateway assessment throws up other issues it will address them.

The head of another school, who has asked not be named to protect the identity of children, said disturbed new entrants are increasingly common, and he has had a teacher close to leaving because of their appalling behaviour.

In the worst case, he said a boy was not only violent to teachers and children, his behaviours were also sexualised.

The principal said the boy would leave the school whenever he felt like it and had to be watched and tracked constantly to keep him safe.

Acknowledgment – Radio NZ – Paper-work seen as blocking support for children

A further Radio NZ report stated,

Northland primary school principals say they are seeing growing numbers of violent new entrants and getting less support to deal with them.

Three Whangarei primary school principals have complained about a lack of support for new entrants with serious psychological problems.

Another principal in Northland says research is urgently needed on the growing numbers of violent and unmanageable children entering the school system.

Principals said they are having to beg for specialist help and teacher aides while the Government spends $60 million on a behavioural management programme for teachers.

Tai Tokerau Principals’ Association vice-president Marilyn Dunn said there has been an influx of new entrants to Northland schools raised in homes where they have seen violence, methamphetamine and alcohol abuse since they were born.

Ms Dunn said such children are often aggressive and need the help of a teacher aide for prolonged periods to keep them and others safe.

She said the Government’s new Positive Behaviour for Learning programme for teachers does not provide for this and schools need far more specialised help.

Acknowledgment – Radio NZ  -  Teachers having to cope with more violent new entrants

The same report added,

But the Ministry of Education on Monday defended the level of support available to schools dealing with violent or disturbed children.

The ministry said its special education teams are working with between 3000 and 4000 pupils throughout New Zealand who exhibit particularly challenging behaviour. It said the teacher aide budget in Northland is unchanged.

However principals say in practice, that amounts to a funding cut – because they are dealing with growing numbers of damaged children and there is now less funding to go around.

Acknowledgment – IBID

And as usual, Key  admitted  he didn’t  know if there been an increase in violent cases in Whangarei.

Another report also questioned how much community support was being given to vulnerable people with psychiatric conditions,

The brother of a man killed by a mentally ill former flatmate says not enough is being done to care for mental health patients living in the community – often with tragic results.

Cambridge man Graeme Moyle’s older brother, Colin Moyle, was bludgeoned to death in his Auckland home by psychiatric patient Matthew Ahlquist in May 2007.

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“I believe not enough resources are available to care for mental health patients in the community, especially at the higher end. The reason many are on the street is because there’s not enough beds for them and there’s nowhere to put them.”

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“Whilst we endeavour to provide the best possible care to service users, we are mindful that despite our best intentions, in any organisation as large and complex as ours, there will be times where things don’t go to plan,” Ms Jenkin said. “In such situations we will generally formally report serious incidents and undertake a service review to understand what went wrong, and why, in order to improve the services that we provide to those that need them.”

In the 1990s, New Zealand went through a period of de-instutionalisation.  Patients from mental health hospitals  and other institutions were relocated back into the community. The  Bolger-led National government of the day assured the public that as institutions were emptied,  resourcing and funding would follow.

The opposite seemed to happen and many ex-patients ended up in living in squalor or out on the streets. One well known case in the 1990s involved a female ex-psychiatric patient who slept in public toilets; gathered cigarettes butts from gutters; and was at considerable personal  risk. She seemed to have no support or safety network whatsoever.

The plaintive cries from Whangarei principals for more support suggests that funding for high needs students is severely lacking.

Promises of support for disturbed students are not materialising into actual funding.

This blogger is personally aware of one solo-mother who has a son with high-functioning autism. The young lad, 12, has recently come to the attention of emergency services (police and fire brigades) with his extreme behaviour.

He requires full-time support from a teacher aid – but is receiving only half the hours that should be allocated to him.

I know this kid. He’s a good sort. With full support he could become a stable, productive member of society.

Without support, and allowed to go “off the rails”, he will end up in prison.

Cost to tax-payer: $95,000+ per annum.

The staff, management, and parents of Salisbury school students were correct to fight this government. Their fears that Parata and other National Ministers were offering hollow reassurances of  “Intensive wrap-around” services was well-founded.

If we’ve learned anything these last five years it is this; What National  giveth; National taketh.

The parents of Salisbury School students were not about to put this matter to the test, nor put the well-being of their daughters into the ‘caring’ hands of Hekia Parata, Bill English, et al.

“Wraparound”?

I don’t think so.

Not this Weetbix government.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 31 May 2013.

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References

Ministry of Education: Development of a new intensive wraparound special education (PDF) (May 2012)

Beehive: Final decision on residential special schools announced (31 Oct 2012)

Nelson Mail: Salisbury School mounts legal bid  (26 Nov 2012)

TVNZ:   Special needs school closure declared unlawful  (11 Dec 2012)

Nelson Mail: U-turn stuns, delights Salisbury  (22 May 2013)

Radio NZ: Paper-work seen as blocking support for children (27 May 2013)

Radio NZ: Principals frustrated with ‘gateway’ programme (audio – 27 May 2013)

Radio NZ: Childrens’ charities struggle to secure funding (audio – 27 May 2013)

Radio NZ: Teachers having to cope with more violent new entrants (27 May 2013)

Fairfax Media:  ‘Too little resourcing’ for mentally unwell (29 May 2013)

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Four schools to close in Aranui, Christchurch

19 June 2013 3 comments

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Hekia Parata has announced the closure (“merger”) of four schools in Aranui, Christurch,

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Four Christchurch schools to close

Acknowledgment:  NZ Herald – Four Christchurch schools to close

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By sheer coincidence (?), all four schools happen to  be situated in the electorate of Christchurch East.

Christchurch East is a Labour seat, currently held by Labour  MP,  Lianne Dalziel,

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Christchurch East Electorate

Acknowledgment: Elections NZ – Official Count Results — Christchurch East

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As National’s electoral support continues to drop  in the polls, closing schools in National held seats (Christchurch Central, Ilam, Waimakariri, and Selwyn) would not do the government any favours.

So when this right-wing government – which has demonstrated an unerring ability to act ruthlessly when it suits their interests – is going to close schools, causing more misery for the locals, they target a Labour electorate.

Or maybe it’s just a sheer coincidence that all four schools are in Ms Dalziel’s electorate and none are in a National held seat?

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yeah-right

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 May 2013.

 

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12 June – Issues of Interest

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Looking at the pieces

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Nigel Latta on National Standards

On Facebook, child psychologist and TV host, Nigel Latta, had this to say about the recent National Standards “results”;

‘National Standards’ aren’t.

The latest national standards ‘results’ being reported in the media are utter nonsense. Pure and simple. Even if we ignore the large inconsistencies between the way that the ‘standards’ are measured (and we can’t because the inconsistencies make comparisons all but impossible), and the fact that it assumes all children of a given age are maturing at the same rate (which they don’t), and we ignore the impact of little things like child poverty (which some politicians like to do much to their shame), it’s still impossible to say anything at all about a change in the numbers when you only have two data points.

They can’t say that a difference of 1.2-2% on the various measures between last year and this year is an ‘improvement’, because we simply don’t know.

If you had assessed all of those very same children again the day after they were assessed for these numbers, in the exact same conditions with the exact same measures, then you would also get a different number. That’s because in the real world we have this little thing called statistical variation–things never work out exactly the same. To make any meaningful statements about ‘improvements’ you need meaningful measures (which national standards aren’t anyway) over several different data points (i.e. over several years).

I wish the media would get that very simple, but very important point. Politicians will spin it as a gain, but it isn’t. It’s simply meaningless statistical ‘noise’.

The government went with national standards because they thought voters would like it, not because it’s the best thing for making progress on education. If we really wanted to lift our ‘national standards’ then, perhaps as a beginning, we’d take more care of the large numbers of our kids living in poverty.

When they produce their ‘rankings’ of schools I’m pretty sure it’s going to show a trend whereby higher decile schools meet/exceed the ‘standards’ much more than lower decile schools. I wonder why that might be? And who do we blame for that? Teachers?

Don’t be sucked in by all this political positioning. My advice is to ignore the national standards tables because they don’t mean anything. There’s a reason teachers were so opposed to the way these ‘national standards’ are being used… fundamentally because it’s nonsense!

Nigel Latta, Facebook, 12 June 2013

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100% Pure brand busted!

New Zealand’s distance from it’s major trading partners (except Australia) has always been a major impediment to our trading. Our point-of-difference has  been the quality of our food products, and has made them desirable commodities on that basis.  Branding ourselves as “100% Pure” and  “Clean and Green” were marketing tools that created a multi-billion dollar export industry.

But that is coming to an end.

We are not “100% Pure” and nor are we “Clean and Green”. Anything but.

National has paid lip service to being green.

Pollution has been allowed to increase.

It’s focus on “reforming” the RMA to allow for exploitation mof sensitive environmental areas; more and more chemicals ion our farms; allowing dangerous deep sea drilling of our coastline; mining in Conservation lands; and ditching our committment to the Kyoto Protocol – have not gone unnoticed by our trading partners.

And those trading partners  are starting to react accordingly,

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Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

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An over-reaction?

Not when National has appointed a  board to over-see a resource consent application to allow an increase of nitrogen pollution  in the Tukituki River  by a staggering 250% !

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Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

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This will not doubt be ratchetted back to “only” 50% or 100%, and National will claim that they are “listening” to public concerns. It’s an old political trick when a deeply unpopular policy is put forward. Make a number unfeasibly large; then offer a lower number, and claim that government has listened to the public. In reality it was the lower number all along that was the preferred option.

National has consistently undermined environmental protections in this country, as well as knee-capped DoC by sacking staff and under-funding it’s operations.

We are now starting to pay the price of right-wing policies that pursue business and profit ahead of  preserving our environment.

What National and it’s one-eyed supporters don’t seem to comprehend is that business and profits are dependendent on our clean and green environment. Mess up the environment and expect to lose customers and profits.

Just ask the Sri Lankans.

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User-pays healthcare?

For those neo-liberals and naive National supporters who advocate replacing our socialised healthcare system with privatised healthcare insurance, I present the reality,

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NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

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Private health-privider,  Wakefield chairman Alan Isaac said,

“The total number of New Zealanders with private health insurance (is) decreasing.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

Well, no wonder!

Even as private healthcare companies like Wakefield are complaining about losing customers, they are hiking premiums and still making a 27% increase in full-year earnings. Twentyseven percent! Compare that to other investments, and you begin to realise that these companies aren’t doing too bad.

That’s 27% that could have been re-invested in healthcare – but is instead going into the pockets of shareholders.

What would happen, I wonder, if New Zealand’s healthcare system was fully privatised and  went totally “free market”, as ACT policy demands?

This OECD chart suggests the result, if we were ever foolish enough to go down that road,

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OECD - private - public - healthcare expenditure -2007

Source: OECD – Total health expenditure per capita, public and private, 2007

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At 7,290, the United States spends nearly three times as much on healthcare as we do. Their private/public health costs are vastly greater than the entire public/private expenditure we have here in New Zealand with our “socialised” system.

And ACT wants to emulate our American cuzzies?!

The only thing the USA has demonstrated is that a privatised healthcare system will result in a massive blow-out in costs and rapacious profits for shareholders.

The argument from the neo-liberal Right is that private enterprise is “more efficient” and better for consumers. This is absolute bollocks.

If anything, private health insurance is highly ineffective at delivering  universal healthcare for it’s clients,

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Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

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As has been observed by others in the past, private health insurance is relatively cheap when you are young, healthy, and make few demands for medical intervention.

But with old age; increased infirmity; and heightened vulnerabilty comes increased premium payments for policy-holders. Just when they most require increased medical services.

This is the fatal flaw in private medical insurance; those who most require it, will pay the highest premiums. And pay, and pay, and pay…

Just ask the Americans.

See also: NZ Herald – Jack Tame: Sickness is too expensive in the land of the free

Other blogs:  Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

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Some good news at last…

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It has been a stain on our reputation that despite our anti-nuclear legislation, our Superannuation Fund was still investing in overseas companies engaged in producing atomic bombs and cluster munitions. This was a problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”)  that I highlighted  in December, last year.

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

The Superannuation Fund has done the right thing by no longer continuing to invest in Babcock & Wilcox, Fluor Corporation, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Jacobs Engineering Group, Serco Group and URS Corporation;

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Super Fund sells nuclear investments

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Super Fund sells nuclear investments

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The other weapons we are no longer investing in is the manufacture of cluster-munitions. These vile things are the weapons-of-choice for vicious dictators and other repressive regimes which they use against their civilian population.

They have been used in Syria, against unarmed civilians. Children have been killed by these monstrous devices.  (see: Syrian children ‘killed by cluster bombs’)

Cluster munitions have been outlawed by  nearly 100 nations which signed a  treaty to ban cluster bombs.  In 2009, to their credit, the current National-led government  passed legislation banning these obscene weapons from our country. This included the possession, retaining, stockpiling, assistance, encouragement, or even inducement to deal with them.

NZ Parliament: Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 (17 Dec 2009)

It would take a ruthless person to discount this human suffering and advocate for our continued investment in their manufacture.

The Superannuation Fund was effectively breaking the law with it’s investments in General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Raytheon, and the Goodrich Corp.

It’s good to see that our fingers are no longer bloodied by such  investments.

As for right-wingers who dismiss investment in atomic bombs or cluster munition – go play with a cluster bomb.  Come back to me after it’s detonated in your hands. Then we’ll talk.

Just ask the Syrians.

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The bucks stops with me over there, somewhere…

I guess it was inevitable, really…

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Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

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Did we really, really expect any one of the three Ministers who signed off on Novopay to put their hand up and admit responsibility?!

No less than three ministers signed off on Novopay, to allow it to “go live”;

  • Education Minisrer Hekia Parata
  • Associate Education Minister Craig Foss
  • Finance Minister Bill English

Because doesn’t it strike people as  indicative that Minister for Everything, aka, Mr Fixit, Steven Joyce was appointed Minister in charge of Novopay – thereby taking responsibility for this ongoing balls-up away from Parata?! (see: ODT – Joyce to take on handling of Novopay)

Despite the so-call “ministerial inquiry”, Joyce had a very interesting point to make on 31 January;

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Government sticking with Novopay - for now

Acknowledgement – Radio NZ – Government sticking with Novopay for now

Steven Joyce revealed that Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and former education minister Craig Foss approved the use of Novopay despite being told that it had bugs.”

So… how can  Joyce’s statement be reconciled with his statement, five months later,

Reporting to Ministers was inconsistent, unduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation.”

Source: Beehive.govt.nz: Ministerial Inquiry report into Novopay released

Either Ministers were “told that it had bugs” or  reporting wasunduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation“. Which is it?!

By the way, the Ministerial Inquiry was undertaken by Maarten Wevers and Chairman of Deloitte New Zealand Murray Jack.

Mr Weavers was former head of the Department of the Prime Minister (John Key) and Cabinet.

Connect the dots.

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WhiteWash

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Other blogposts: Gordon Campbell on the latest Novopay revelations

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Christchurch will cost National the Election

20 February 2013 19 comments

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cartoon - parata - I will do my homework

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There are three things that will cost National the election in 2014 (or earlier).

The first is jobs. The Market is simply not creating new jobs as neo-liberal dogma dictates it should. And with National’s Hands Off policy in the economic, their 2011 promise to create 170,000 new jobs (see: “Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs” ) is something that will be used to beat them over the head more and more as Election Day looms.

The economy. A Hands Off policy in good times, when unemployment is low and growth is reasonably good, can be expected and understood.

In bad times though, taking your hands of the economic tiller poses one question; if government doesn’t act proactively (as other governments are doing around the world) – then what is the point of having a government?

And lastly, events with education-related problems will remain an open, painful sore for the Nats. Whether it’s the quasi-privatisation of education through dodgy “Charter Schools”; the unrelenting Novopay cock-up; or proposed closures/amalgamations of 19 schools in Christchurch – this will be an on-going sign for the public (and voters) that National does not have the co-operation of the community and can ride rough-shod over people’s concerns.

As Colin Espiner wroter in Christchurch’s “The Press” on 19 January,
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“The secret to great comedy, they say, is timing, and if “they” are right, then this Government is not very funny.

With Friday looming as the second anniversary of the most devastating of the Christchurch earthquakes, Education Minister Hekia Parata’s school closures announcement could not have come at a worse time.

I don’t think anyone who wasn’t in the city on that day can truly appreciate the impact it had on the people of Christchurch, and continues to have to this day. Certainly Hekia Parata doesn’t.

I accept that in the wake of the quakes some decisions about the future of schooling in Christchurch needed to be made. Actually I think everyone accepts that.

I also accept that some of those decisions won’t be popular, but needed to be made. As John Key said yesterday, “the Government needs to address this issue for the long-term good of the community”.

But there are ways and means of doing something that isn’t going to be pleasant. Dentists use anaesthetic before drilling a hole in your tooth. And they warn you beforehand.

The manner in which this Government has approached the issue of Christchurch’s post-quake schooling has been woeful. Actually, that’s being too kind. It’s been careless, haphazard, unfeeling and downright incompetent.”

Source:  Timing of school closures couldn’t be worse

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After a while “strong government” becomes arrogant, uncaring government. And that’s when voters rebel.

A recent IPSOS/Fairfax poll, which showed a drop in support for the Nats  at 44.9% (1.3% points down on their previous poll in December) made this interesting obserservation;

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” With the election probably still at least 18 months away, the big battleground will be for undecided voters, who made up 11.1 per cent of those surveyed.

Pollster Duncan Stuart said a breakdown of undecided voters suggested many were “soft” National supporters, who had started looking around. “

Source: National no longer a sure winner – poll

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In other words, we are seeing a re-play of the final two years of the Shipley-led National administration, in 1998 and 1999, when public odium because so strong that voters couldn’t stampede fast enough to the Ballot Booths to vote for Labour and the Alliance. There is only so much “hands off” government the Middle Classes  will tolerate before their ‘comfort zone’ is breeched.

In the late ’90s, the ‘touch paper’ was health.

This time it will be jobs and education.

After two major earthquakes; a loss of 185 lives; thousands of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed; upheavals in peoples’ lives; increasing numbers of homeless living rough; slow processing of insurance claims; and many who have simply quit the quake-ravaged city – the current agenda from National, and implemented by Hekia Parata, is like a rolling, political slow-quake, of additional stress on the city.

Cantabrians must be looking skyward and beseeching the Heavens, “What have we done wrong to earn all this?”

That stress is leading to desperation and behaviour that in other, saner times, good people might never think of doing,

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Dark side of opposition to school mergers

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Source: Dark side of opposition to school mergers

The stress on families, teachers, and others in areas targetted for school closures/amalgamations must be phenomenal.

New Zealanders watching all this, up and down the country, must be secretly sighing relief that they aren’t the one’s in the firing line of  Christchurch’s twin curses of natural disaster and political upheaval.

Yesterday (19 February) National electorate-MP, Nicky Wagner stated on Radio New Zealand,
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“The National MP for Christchurch Central, Nicky Wagner, accepts she may lose votes as a result of the education overhaul. But she says she believes the right decisions are being made. The MP won her seat with a majority of just 47 votes.  
She said,  
‘‘ We need to make really good decisions for Christchurch. We need to make good decisions in education but in all other ones and to make the most of every opportunity, and personally if it’s a matter between a good decision and being voted in again I’d take the good decision any day.’’   “

Source: Radio NZ, 10pm news bulletin, 19 Feb 2013

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Ms Wagner’s  nonchalence in losing her seat in favour of  taking a “good decision any day” may come true sooner than she anticipated.

Cantabrians will be happy to assist.

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Additional

Fairfax media: 71pc want Parata gone – poll

Fairfax media: Parata’s ‘lie-telling’ infuriates principals

 

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Amazing events this last month!!!

19 February 2013 5 comments

Three amazing events that’ve taken place this last months, and which serves to remind us how unpredictable and weird the Universe can really be…

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Sensational!!!

Richard III’s skeleton discovered!

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The grave of Richard III was discovered on 4 February, under a carpark in Leicester (fitting, being the 21st Century), and caused a worldwide sensation as this 528 year old King was prominent in British history as well as the subject of a play by William Shakespeare…

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Richard III king's face recreated from skull discovered under car park

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Astounding!!!

Meteor shower over Russia!

Straight out of a science fiction movie, a huge meteor entered the atmosphere and exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, three days ago. Luckily, it exploded into fragments high up in the atmosphere.

Had it impacted the ground intact, the devastation and loss of life would’ve been far more severe.

It was a small taste of what our dino cuzzies must’ve experienced, 65 million years ago…

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Russian meteor fragments 'discovered at lake'

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Unbelievable!!!

Hekia Parata fronts on Campbell Live – Sceptics Society shocked!

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campbell live - hekia parata - christchurch schools -  18 february 2013

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Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either…

After sending her ‘flunkies’ (see previous blogopost:  Parata, Bennett, and Collins – what have they been up to?) to front for her and take media heat for Christchurch schools closures, the Novopay debacle, and other foul-ups – Education Minister, Hekia Parata finally fronted for an interview with TV3′s John Campbell.

The media training that Parata has been given seems to have worked. Her demented grin…

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hekia parata - 30 september 2012 - Q+A

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hekia parata - 30 september 2012 - TVNZ Q+A

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- was gone.

Meanwhile, in ‘quake ravaged Christchurch, where increased stress is causing children to have nightmares and instances of bedwetting has skyrocketed (see:  Quakes traumatise kids), Parata has decided not to close or amalgamate 31 schools.

She’s only going to close/amalgamate 13 schools (see:  Minister announces fate of Canterbury schools).

Well, that’s that’s f*****g big of her, isn’t it?!

Why not further gut the heart out of a community that has lost 185 of it’s people to a violent,  natural disaster; thousands of homes damages or destroyed; businesses closed; insurance companies and EQC dicking people around; and entire neighbourhoods written off.

In case anyone needed proof that National has no heart, well, look no further.

And for all you National supporters out there who don’t give a rats because it hasn’t happened to you… well, Karma is working over-time at present.

Your turn will come.

To the people of Christchurch, and for those shocked by today’s announcements, I just want to say that a whole lot of your fellow New Zealanders are with you, in spirit at least. I just hope there’s a change of government before Parata can implement her rotten-to-the-core, penny-pinching, policies.

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= fs =

The Prime Minister, Pastoral property, and Parata…

5 February 2013 9 comments

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Point 1: The Prime Minister

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Key’s appearance at Waitangi’s Te Tii Marae was marked by the usual “theatre” (as Labour’s Shane Jones refers to it – see: Titewhai Harawira wins over escorting PM at Waitangi) and the media were only too happy to focus their attention and cameras  on the drama of the day.

Someone, though, profitted enormously from today’s (5 February) events,

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'It is easy to say I will walk away' from Waitangi - Key

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John Key vows to return to Waitangi

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PM says he'll keep coming to Waitangi

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Unfortunately  for the Left, Key’s mana was only enhanced by the public spectacle of his calm, stately, demeanour and will have raised his popularity as Prime Minister by several percentage points. Middle Class Pakeha will have lapped up Dear Leader’s performance – especially his vow to “keep returning”.

Shades of Douglas MacArthur’s famous quote during World War 2, “I came through and I shall return“.

Not in 2014, I hope.

National governments are too costly for our economy and social cohesion. Just ask any of the 175,000 unemployed or 250,000 children living in poverty or 40,000 jobs lost in the manufacturing sector in the last four years.

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Point 2:  Pastoral property

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9. John Key Tenants in our own country

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The Great Sell-Off of our country continues unabated, as news came out today that Chinese company, Yashili New Zealand Dairy Company has announced that it has applied for  Overseas Investment Office approval to build a $210 million milk processing plant at Pokeno in Waikato, and a Swedish company,  Southern Pastures Partnership,  has been approved by the OIO to purchase  eight Waikato dairy farms, totalling over 3,000 hectares.

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Swedish investors acquire Waikato dairy farms

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Yashili Dairy looking to set up shop in NZ

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Once again, we are seeing the most productive and profitable parts of our primary industries being sold off to foreign investors.

See also: Chinese dairy giant buys land for $210m factory

See also: Chinese dairy giant enters NZ market with $210m factory

See also: Swedish investors buy farms from Hart

See also: Swedish investors cleared to buy Carter Holt dairy farms

Those naive enough to believe that this will benefit us – need to look again.

What the Swedes and Chinese have done is make an immediate investment for long-term gains. The dairy industry is profitable now – when the human population on Earth  reaches 9 billion, it will create incredible wealth…

wealth for those who own the means of production.

In this case, the profits made by Yashili New Zealand Dairy Company and Southern Pastures Partnership will be ‘exported’ back to the home-nations of the investors (Sweden and China), along with the goods that they produce.

We will end up with some taxes paid by employees (us) and the companies.

But most of the dairy pay-out from Southern Pastures Partnership and profits from exports by  Yashili New Zealand Dairy Company will be remitted overseas.

The consequences, if it needs to be spelled out will be;

  • lost profits to us, as a country
  • lost foreign revenue, through exports,
  • a worsening Current Account deficit.

In years to come our descendents (most of whom will be living in Australia by then) will look back at us and wonder at our lack of foresight and economic  naiveté.

In short – how dumb were we?

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Point 3: Parata

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Further to my blogpost  on 18 January, our very own Invisible Woman – Hekia Parata – our so-called “Minister of Education”, was still shying away from appearing in the media. (See previous blogpost:  Parata, Bennett, and Collins – what have they been up to?)

Campbell did another story on the Novopay fiasco today (5 February), and  invited Ms Parata to an interview.

She was nowhere to be seen. (And as I speculated twelve days in my blogpost - Karma for Key?  – the reason may be that she’s been told;  “stay away from the media and keep your mouth firmly zipped, sweetie“.)

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Campbell Live - 5 February 2013 - Hekia Parata - No show - novopay

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Which is just as well, as Campbell had some further remarkable instances of cock-ups made by Novopay. Like, school cleaners getting paid $20,000 for working 24 hours a fortnight?

Maybe John Key’s promise in 2008 to raise the wages of New Zealanders has finally come true?

Nah. No such luck – just more  Novopay cock-ups.

Meanwhile some teachers were being paid $0.00.

Never mind paying $100  million for Novopay’s lemon – perhaps National should’ve just left it to Lotto? The results would’ve been about the same.

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= fs =

Did we just hear Steven Joyce sh*t all over his colleagues?!?!

31 January 2013 14 comments

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Government sticking with Novopay - for now

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Government sticking with Novopay – for now

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Steven Joyce,

Steven Joyce revealed that Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and former education minister Craig Foss approved the use of Novopay despite being told that it had bugs.”

See: IBID

In colloquial terms, that is what is known as ‘dropping someone in it’ – “it” being brown, smelly, and heading for waste-treament ponds.

Is there a civil war going on within National, comprising two factions with one led by technocrat Steven Joyce and the other by neo-liberal Bill English?

Or is there something even more disquieting going on within National’s ranks.

Joyce added,

There was definitely knowledge there were bugs at the outset of going live. But the advice of all involved was that the thing should proceed. I doubt they’d give the same advice today.

Noticeably, when queried by media, all three Ministers had similar responses – obviously coached by the same tax-payer funded Party spin-doctors and media-minders,

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Mr Fix-It has Novopay plan

See: Mr Fix-It has Novopay plan

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Hekia Parata

I think hindsight’s a wonderful thing....

Bill English

In hindsight....

And the tongue-tied Craig Foss,

Well in hindsight… is a benefit of hindsight...

See: IBID

You can always tell when a politician has been coached; they use the same words and phrases over and over again. Spin doctors/media-minders develop a mantra, and their clients are expected to learn and parrot it, by rote. It takes a skilful journalist/interviewer to peel away the carefully-crafted coaching and get to the truth.

This indicates that Parata, English, and Foss had been pre-warned of Joyce’s press conference and admission of the three Minister’s actions.

So is this some sort of carefully managed internecine warfare?

Or a very subtle, clever strategy to neutralise possible Opposition disclosures in Parliament?

Joyce’s statements that there will be on-going problems with Novopay could be seen as an attempt to minimise future media reports on Novopay errors.After all, if National admits that there will be ongoing problems – does that make it news when it happens?

Whichever is the case, this is Steven Joyce at his most cunning, and the Opposition will need to be on their toes. As will the media, if they are not to be out-manouvered by National’s “Mr Fix It”.

“Mr Fix It” does not apply to sorting out computerised pay systems. “Mr Fix It” fixes political messes.

This certainly qualifies as the Mother of all Messes.

Addendum

As is common with National, Joyce attempted to shift blame onto advisors/bureacrats/Uncle Tom Cobbly, when he stated,

There was definitely knowledge there were bugs at the outset of going live. But the advice of all involved was that the thing should proceed…

My bet is that we will never, ever see this “advice”.

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= fs =

Karma for Key?

30 January 2013 5 comments

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John Key, on Hekia Pata, nearly a fortnight ago,

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“I actually think she’s a very effective communicator; in fact if you look at her history in politics, she’s been one of the smoothest communicators we’ve actually had.” – John Key, 18 January 2013

“I actually think she’s a very effective communicator; in fact if you look at her history in politics, she’s been one of the smoothest communicators we’ve actually had.” – John Key, 18 January 2013

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Hekia Parata, confirming Dear Leader’s assertion that she is  “one of the smoothest communicators we’ve actually had”,

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'Karma' strikes unpaid Education Ministry staff

Full story

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It takes a profound and deeply  callous indifference to make light of the ongoing Novopay fiasco and the resulting stresses on teachers and school admninistrators.

Parata may have been ‘joking’ when she made  her  “Karma” quip.

The joke, though, is on her and on John Key. I suspect that the moment this story hit the headlines, that Key was on the phone quick-smart and gave her a simple message; “shut the  -------- up!”.

As pundits have reasonable postulated, Key has evaded demands that Parata be despatched as Education Minister. (After all, only eight days ago he fired two other Ministers  who were nowhere as masterful in the  incompetance stakes  as Ms Parata.)

The difference, as the pundits have most likely correctly guessed, is that sacking Parata would’ve been seen as caving in to teacher’s unions, school boards, parents, and anyone else that she has pissed off in the last year or so. It would’ve been a major coup for the Opposition, who are now only 22 months away from becoming the next government.

So instead of sacking Parata, Key went for Plan B; side-line her so she is Minister of Education in name only, and assigned  National’s “hatchetman” – Stephen Joyce – as the real Power-behind-the-Ministerial-Leather-Throne,

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Joyce to take on handling of Novopay

Full story

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In the meantime, Key’s message to Parata would’ve been simple,

Sit there.

Smile vacantly.

Shut up.

And do nothing.”

As I wrote in my previous blogpost (see: National and the Cult of Buck-Passing )  on 22 Decemberlast year,

As  for Hekia Parata, this blogger is ambivalent about her resigning her portfolio.

A new Minister would simply take up the reins and pursue current National Party policies. Perhaps with a new vigour. That would be of no help to this country whatsoever.

Parata’s presence as Minister of Education has an ongoing “benefit” of focusing on the ideological nuttiness of National’s education “reforms”.

National’s education portfolio is a mess because National’s policies are, in themselves, a mess.

Why take away a constant reminder of National’s failings, by sacking one of it’s most inept Ministers?

Why put a fresh, new, clean face on a cesspit of problematic policies?

Why let the Nats off the hook?

Let Parata stay. It will give voters something to think about in 2014 (if not earlier).

It seems that two of my “predictions” have come  to pass,

  1. A new Minister would simply take up the reins and pursue current National Party policies.” Enter: Stephen Joyce.
  2. Let Parata stay. It will give voters something to think about in 2014 (if not earlier).” With her bizarre comments, she certainly is giving voters something to think about.

When Hekia Parata referred to Karma today, I think she was missing the Big Picture. See the bite marks on Key’s $50 million arse?

That’s  karma.

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References

Otago Daily Times: Joyce to take on handling of Novopay

NZ Herald: Parata safe in her job – Key

Dominion Post: No pay for Education Ministry staff

NZ Herald: ‘Karma’ strikes unpaid Education Ministry staff

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Parata, Bennett, and Collins – what have they been up to?

18 January 2013 12 comments

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Muppet #1 – Hekia Parata

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I actually think she’s a very effective communicator; in fact if you look at her history in politics, she’s been one of the smoothest communicators we’ve actually had.” – John Key, 18 January 2013

See: Parata safe in her job – Key

Prime Minister John Key says Education Minister Hekia Parata will be safe in an upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, … because she is hugely talented and one of National’s best communicators.

See: Parata’s job safe in shuffle

*snort!*

I’d be a happy chappy if the Nats DID have more like her in Cabinet!!

If she’s one of the Nat’s “best communicators”, I’d luv to know why she’s kept ducking calls for media interviews and instead sent Lesley Longstone to cover for Parata’s f**k-ups,

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2 October 2012

lesley longstone fronts instead of hekia parata (2)

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3 October 2012

Ministry of Education admits some errors in data

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4 October 2012

Education Minister avoids her critics

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26 October 2012

lesley longstone fronts instead of hekia parata (3)

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29 October 2013

Longstone challenged to find solutions

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14 November 2012

lesley longstone fronts instead of hekia parata (1)

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28 November 2012

lesley longstone Schools still beset by Novopay problems

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When Lesley Longstone’s resignation was announced last year on 19 December, Hekia Parata was still nowhere to be seen. The announcement was handled by State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie (see:  Education secretary quits),

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19 December 2012

lesley longstone Education secretary quits

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20 December 2012

lesley longstone Parata, Key refuse to front over education debacle

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Parata’s office explained why she couldn’t front,

Parata is currently on holiday and has refused to front on Longstone’s resignation, but in a statement released this afternoon she thanked Longstone for her efforts in leading the Ministry.

See: Education Ministry boss quits after ‘strained relationship’

Hmmmm, judging by Parata not fronting for most of last year, was she on holiday for most of 2012?!

“Smooth communicator…”!?

Ye gods, this deserves a Tui billboard.

Roll on 2013 – it’s going to be a great year.

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Muppet #2 – Paula Bennett

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Bennett trumpets 5000 fewer on DPB

Full story

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Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, has a relationship with hypocrisy, bene-bashing, and mendacity that can only be described as “intimate”.

Since 2011, she has derided and denigrated the unemployed; solo-parents; widows, invalids, the sick, and young people, and blamed them for being in a position requiring welfare assistance.

Never mind the fact that the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/08 has seen unemployment skyrocket from 3.4% in 2007 to the current 7.3%.

Or that welfare recipients as a whole were at their lowest in 2008.

National’s entire strategy for getting people off welfare has not been about job creation – that has beemn left to the “Market” to sort out – but about punitive sanctions targetting those receiving welfare.

See previous blogpost for full list of sanctions targetting welfare recipients: Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – the social welfare safety net

Even Dear Leader had a go at welfare recipients in February 2011,

But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.

And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.” – John Key, 17 February, 2011

See: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

Key had even more daft things to say about welfare recipients here; National to push 46,000 off welfare . But not a single word about generating jobs for the unemployed. Not. One. Word.

Now that 5,000 sole-parents have mysteriously “dropped off” from  DPB welfare, I have a question for Ms Bennet and Dear Leader;

Will those sole parents be acknowledged for finding work (a questionable assumption in itself) in a tough marketplace where unemployment stands at 7.3% (175,000 people) and where, it was announced today, growth in the jobs market has slowed? (See:  Unemployment rate set to hold as job ads flatten out – ANZ, Job growth slows, says Trade Me)

Will Bennett acknowledge that people  are on welfare – not because it is an opulent lifestyle – but because of sheer necessity?

Will the Minister – who successfully exploited the welfare system for her own benefit; bought a house using WINZ funding; and gave up paid employment because it was “too tough” to  study, work, and care for her daughter simultaneously – acknowledge that it was not National’s punitive bene-bashing policies that found work for 5,000 sole-parents, but the parents themselves?

Or will she grab the kudos for herself?

More than half of that drop happened in the last three months of the year, after the introduction of Ms Bennett’s policy required sole parents to get part-time work when their youngest child turned five and fulltime work for those whose children were older than 14.

Ms Bennett said 3221 sole parents had returned to work since that came into force in October.

See: Bennett trumpets 5000 fewer on DPB

Yup. She’s taken the credit for herself.

Addendum

The numbers quoted in the Heral story are at variance with those from the Ministry of Social Developement.

From the NZ Herald,

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Bennett trumpets 5000 fewer on DPB - beneficiary numbers

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From the MSD,

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Numbers of working-age clients receiving main benefits at the end of September, 2002 - 2012

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Even the Herald’s own trance of figures is not consistent.  The DPB figures are compared between 2011 and 2012. The remaining two trances – All Types of Benefits and Unemployment – are compared between 2010 and 2012.

Dodgy.

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Muppet #3 – Judith Collins

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Remember “Crusher” Collins? Remember New Zealand’s own Iron Lady who brooks no sh*t from criminals, boy racers, or stroppy Labour MPs?

Remember how Collins was going to deal to crims who had been awarded compensation for breaches of their rights,

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New Bill ensures victims can lay claims against prisoner compensation

Source & More

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The Nats love to thrash the Law & Order  issues. It appeals to low information voters, rednecks, and right wing simpletons and is great for the Tories to  score a few thousand extra votes at election time.

In reality it achieves zip to actually reform and rehabilitate prisoners, and address core problems in their offending; alcolhol/drug abuse; illiteracy; unresolved psychiatric problems; and off course the number one factor; no prospects for employment.

Which is why it’s a bit of a surprise when a National minister appears to See The Light, and backtracks on one of their core,  Get-Tough-On-Crims policies,

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Collins backtracks on jail compo

Full story

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It’s nice to see a National minister shy away from mindless knee-jerk law-making that appeals to the Talback Radio mindset – but achieves very little except nudge New Zealand closer to being an autocratic state.

Until the next election, of course,

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National hoarding staying strong on crime

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Other blogs

Tumeke: Paula Bennett and her amazing vanishing beneficiaries

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National and the Cult of Buck-Passing

22 December 2012 12 comments

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said no teacher ever 2

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Successive National governments have had a problem.

New Zealanders, like all other human beings, don’t like paying taxes.  National, like all other right wing political parties, are only too happy to oblige  and try to cut taxes at every opportunity. They did this in 2009 and a  year later in 2010. (Though recently they have been sneakily raising indirect taxes wherever possible. See: Parents face burden of preschool squeezeTax hikes disguised as reinvestment’,   Petrol, road charges hikes are ‘bad news‘)

But at the same time, New Zealanders love their tax-payer funded social services. Whether it be free hospitals; highly-subsidised medicines, nearly-free education; free roading, etc. Quite simply, we like the “goodies” that are expected of a developed, First World nation.

What we don’t like are governments that attempt to tinker with, and cut-back, on our state-provided social services.

Which is where Miniaster of Education, Hekia Parata, has gone disastrously wrong.

Her first “crime” was the announced – discovered, more like – policy just after the Budget was released on 24 May. It did not take long before a cunning plan for teacher cuts and larger class sizes, buried deep within the Budget, was uncovered,

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Schools face teacher cuts threat

Full story

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The uproar from parents, teachers, principals, school boards, and others throughout the community was such that the policy was literally ‘gone by lunchtime, two weeks later,

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Backlash forces Government class size U-turn

Full story

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Parents and sector workers were no fools. They knew precisely what this cash-strapped “government” was trying to do.  National had already reached into the pockets of paper-delivery children, to extract taxes from them. (See:  Budget 2012: ‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour)

National had previously blown billions in it’s 2009/2010 tax cuts (see:  Government’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting) and they were now gearing up to recoup those losses by cutting back on State services.

This was pure, unadulterated, and re-cycled National Party policy from the 1990s. Who remembers National’s attempt in 1991, to implement a User-Pays charge of $50 per day in hospitals, up to a maximum of ten days? (See: Teara – Funding public hospitals) The policy was hugely unpopular and failed because New Zealanders simply refused to pay it.

The classroom-teacher debacle was the first of several major crises (I refuse to call them “issues”) to confront Hekia Parata and her Ministry.

Others included,

  • the ongoing Novopay fiasco
  • the enforced amalgamation/closures of 30+ Christchurch schools, using data that was discovered to be hopelessly wrong,
  • the attempt to force closure of Salisbury School, which would have placed special-needs female students in a male school, and making them potential victims of sexual abuse (See:  Parata did not heed warning over closure),
  • Ministry of Education suggestions that misleading information be given in respect to Official Information Act requests about Christchurch school closures. (See: Education ministry criticism ‘serious‘)

It seems fairly clear that Parata has wilfully ignored the advice of her own officials and failed to consult with parents, teachers, and others in local communities. The result has been a growing dillusionment and enmity between Parata and her constituents.

The problems became so great; coming one after another in over-lapping succession; and seemingly increasing in intensity, that Parata eventually ceased to front up to the media.

Instead, it was left to bureacrat, Education Secretary Lesley Longstone, to answer for the Education Minister,

Education Minister Hekia Parata declined an interview with Campbell Live last night. Instead, the ministry’s chief executive Lesley Longstone fronted, and admitted mistakes had been made – though defended the ministry’s processes.

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Lesley Longstone - John Campbell - TV3 - Ministry for Education - Campbell Live - Hekia Parata

Full story

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Hekia Parata could no longer answer to the public without appearing to be hopelessly ineffective in her own portfolio.

As a Minister, she seemed utterly out of her depth and this blogger strongly suspects that she has been given instructions from on high (Steven Joyce?) to steer clear of the media.

The untreated human effluent finally hit the fan when Ms Longstone became the “patsy”, falling on Parata’s sword as a political sacrificial ewe.   Only about thirteen months into a five year contract, Ms Longstone is leaving New Zealand with her tail firmly between her legs. (See:  Education Secretary Lesley Longstone resigns )

One doubts she will be in a hurry to return, even to savour the delights of the  touristy-destination of  “Middle Earth New Zealand”.

During this crisis, Parata was again nowhere to be seen. The resignation and resultant media conference was handled by State Services Commissioner, Iain Rennie (along with a blond “Minder”, wearing copious quantities of red lippy, standing anxiously in the background),

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State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie announces Longstone's resignation

Full story

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So to re-cap,

  1. Parata has stuffed up at least half a dozen critical problems impacting on her ministerial portfolio,
  2. She has succeeded in alienating almost all her constituents,
  3. When she could no longer function effectively as a Minister, nor field media queries, she dumped the whole stinking mess into Longstone’s lap,
  4. The  entangled mess of problems were such that Ms Longstone was unable to cope. Her overseas background and lack of knowledge of New Zealand society and politics was probably one of her greatest handicaps,
  5. Longstone finally had a gutsful and bailed. (And who on Earth could possibly blame her?!)
  6. And Parata was still nowhere to be seen – instead dumping the mess into yet another lap; Iain Rennie.

Talk about dodging responsibility and passing the buck!

So what was our Esteemed Dear Leader doing during this crisis?

Apparently, he was busy,

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See also: Key puts dancing ahead of explaining

Buck-passing – best done as a group National thing.

Considering that Ms Longstone’s resignation was known in advance – with State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie confirming Longstone resignation was made two to three weeks ago – it defies belief that Key was goofing around on radio stations that morning.

It occurs to this blogger that John Key no longer wants the highest job in the land. We saw a hint of this earlier in the year, in May, when he told children at Holy Family School in Porirua East,

Frankly, the way it’s going at the moment you can have the job“.

See: John Key’s midterm blues?

I’m sure there are many people in this country who would love to see someone else take Key’s job.

As  for Hekia Parata, this blogger is ambivalent about her resigning her portfolio.

A new Minister would simply take up the reins and pursue current National Party policies. Perhaps with a new vigour. That would be of no help to this country whatsoever.

Parata’s presence as Minister of Education has an ongoing “benefit” of focusing on the ideological nuttiness of National’s education “reforms”.

National’s education portfolio is a mess because National’s policies are, in themselves, a mess.

Why take away a constant reminder of National’s failings, by sacking one of it’s most inept Ministers?

Why put a fresh, new, clean face on a cesspit of problematic policies?

Why let the Nats off the hook?

Let Parata stay. It will give voters something to think about in 2014 (if not earlier).

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Addendum

National seems to have a dodgy track-record when it comes to losing highly skilled, talented, managerial staff,

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Work and Income boss quits

Full story

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And of course we had the recent extraordinary spectacle of Canadian ex-Supreme Court Judge, Ian Binnie, being publicly derided and humiliated by Justice Minister Judith Collins – despite Justice Binnie being invited by National to oversee an indepent review of the Bain case   (See:  Bain could have an enemy in the Beehive).

At this rate, the most highly skilled and experienced professionals and civil servants will think twice before coming to New Zealand to take up government contracts. Like some evil Master Mind in a James Bond story,

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Dr Evil John Key

“National does not tolerate failure, Ms Longstone. Would you like a Speights or water with your Professional Cyanide Pill?”

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References

Dominion Post: Schools face teacher cuts threat

Fairfax media: Backlash forces Government class size U-turn

Radio NZ: Education ministry criticism ‘serious

NZ herald: Work and Income boss quits

Radio NZ: Education Ministry head resigns

Dominion Post: Key puts dancing ahead of explaining

NZ Herald: Is Parata next?

Fairfax media: Education secretary quits

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= fs =

National’s prioritises Education needs

2 November 2012 26 comments

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More craziness from National…

In a repeat of National’s cost-cutting and closure of  critical social services in the late 1990s, Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced the closure of  two very special; much needed, schools – Christchurch’s McKenzie Residential School and Nelson’s Salisbury Residential School,

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Full story

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These are schools  which provide special education for children with severe behavioural difficulties. These are safe environments for children, who, because of their special needs, would find it difficult – impossible -  to cope in mainstream schools.

Despite most of  365 submissions opposing the closure of  McKenzie Residential School, the decision to close McKenzie and Salibury proceeded.

Which begs the question as to why bother making submissions when National rarely listens to a community.

As the decisionswere announced, Parata stated,

At the very heart of this difficult decision lies the opportunity to provide services and support for more children with complex needs in their local community.

The net result will be better support for more students and keeping communities together. I am satisfied that this combination of services will make sufficient provision for all children with special education needs both locally and nationally.

Our priority now is to ensure that every student currently enrolled in one of the schools closing has an individualised transition plan developed with them, their parents or caregivers, the residential school and their local school. That plan could be to support the student returning home and going to their local school with the wrap around service or to transfer to one of the residential special schools staying open.”

Source

She added,

We can link local services with the remaining residential provision to achieve a more personalised and high quality approach for children and their families.

Source

All of which is  meaningless drivel; platitudes to attempt to quell growing unease within two communities that they are losing two vital services from their areas.

National is promising something it calls a “wrap-around” service for children who are moved from McKenzie and Salisbury, to mainstream schools.

This blogger holds grave concerns for any such promises of  such a service.

In the 1990s, as Psychiatric Institutions closed, and their patients emptied into communities up and down the country, the-then Bolger-led National government promised extensive funding for  support services for  psychiatric patients.

That funding was nowhere as much as was promised or required, and ex-psych patients ended up living in public toilets; on the streets; and mostly with very little vital support.

Some ended up committing violent crimes.

National has a track record in closing down social services; making grandiose promises for funding alternative services – and failing to deliver.

This blogger predicts  precisely the same will happen in this situation. Ex-students of Salisbury and McKenzie will not recieve the support they require; they will end up being “excluded” (modern jargon for expelled) from mainstream schools; and will end up living at home with their parents.

This is utterly predictable.

Only a fool would believe liars such as the Education Minister and others within the National “government”. None of them can be trusted.

National carried out similar  policies in the late 1990s, which resulted in cutbacks to health, public housing, education, police, and other essential state services. All carried out in the name of  “efficiency”.

The result was a country in turmloil; National being thrown out of office on 27 November 1999, losing five seats, whilst Labour picked up twelve, and subsequently formed a new government. (Source)

One questions why two perfectly acceptable; well-run; community-based schools are facing closure? Why is National then planning (?) to spend heavily (?) on support workers for each child integrated into a mainstream school? What is the point of disrupting the lives of so many young, vulnerable children?

Is National so desperate to save money to balance it’s precious books that it is willing to take away a valuable resource for children with severe behavioural difficulties?

The mind of a government minister that can contemplate such a destructive act is perhaps more disturbed than the children at the centre of this tragedy.

Salisbury School is considering legal action – which this blogger supports 100%.  If the only persuasion that National will listen to is a Court injunction, then so be it.

Personal Story

In a previous blogpost – Once upon a time there was a solo-mum – I outlined the true-story of solo-mum, Sally*,  and her sons, Wayne*,  and Zack*. (* not real names)

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I referred to Sally’s younger son, Zack (11),

During her studies and part time job, Sally raised her two sons – one of whom was increasingly “challenging” with Aspergers and ADHD.

(This blogger can confirm that young Zack – whilst a bright, personable child – can also be “a handful”, and was effectively thrown out of his previous school for “disruptive behaviour”.)”

Since that blogpost was written in March of this year, young Zack was “excluded” (ie, expelled) from his second school.

Zack’s ADHD, Aspergers, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder makes him very hard to handle within a mainstream school. He requires a full-time, one-on-one, support-teacher to keep him steady in class and to direct his learning.

Without that support, Zack becomes confrontational; difficult to communicate with; and reacts badly to other children’s behaviour.

Zack was receiving only 3 or 4 hours per school day (six hours) assistance from a support-teacher.

The remaining hours, he was left without support and the class teacher had to handle his unpredictable behaviour,  which could disrupt class proceedings, as well as 30 other children.

One day, in a fit of anger (because another stuudent was making a noise that Zack’s Aspergers-ADHD mind could not cope with) he ran off and left the school. Teachers were called out to search the immediate neighbourhood for him. Police were called and scoured the area.

Zack was found, collecting sticks of the road, and delivered back into the care of Sally’s grandmother…

This is one instance where “wraparound” care does not exist – and no school will accept Zack without it. But without funding from the Ministry of Education, Zack will not have that so-called “wraparound” support.

It should be noted that whilst Zack has challenging, disruptive behaviours, he has a high-functioning form on the autism spectrum (very bright).

The children at Salisbury and McKenzie would have behaviours far more challenging, and far more potentially disruptive, in a mainstream class.

Update; Zack starts at a new school next week. His attendance will be determined by Ministry funding  and time allocated  for a support-teacher. Adequate funding for a full day is by no means guaranteed, and Sally remain anxious on this matter.

Sally has been told in no uncertain terms; without a full-time teacher-support, his new school will limit his attendance within class.

This, folks,   supposedly constitutes National’s idea of a  “wraparound” service.

We should be very worried about assurances from Minister Parata.

Meanwhile…

Even as National closes down two schools for our most vulnerable, behaviourally-difficult children, we hear this news,

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Full story

So evidently, closing down schools for special needs children is a necessity.

Preserving, funding, and giving full State support for one of the most elite schools in this country – is National’s top priority?

Have we got that?

Good.

Meanwhile, one of the special-needs schools made this critical point to Minister Parata,

Salisbury School Board of Trustees chairperson Helen McDonnell said the school is concerned about the risks of the female students because they could be forced to move to the co-educational Halswell School 400 kilometres away.

“Parents are right to be anxious about their daughters’ safety at Halswell because a co-educational environment is inappropriate, unreasonable and potentially dangerous.

“[It] denies them the chance to get the specialist education they deserve and which their future depends on”.”

Source

The female students at Salisbury school, whilst having the bodies of an eleven year old – have the minds of a 5 year old. And they will be placed in a co-ed situation with boys.

I think we can all understand where this is heading…

National – never underestimate their ability to totally screw-up a perfectly viable situation, and cause utter chaos and misery for those involved.

Elite Wanganui Collegiate School, on the other hand, has no such problems.

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Sources

The Press: McKenzie Residential School to close (31 October 2012)

TVNZ: School says closure could put special students at risk (31 October 2012)

Radio NZ: Special needs school board considers legal fight (1 November 2012)

Radio NZ: Listen to item on Morning Report

The Press: Residential pupils sent to mainstream schools (2 November 2012)

Fairfax News: Legality of closing school doubted (2 November 2012)

NZ Herald: Wanganui Collegiate to be integrated (2 November 2012)

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Parata preparing for another backdown? (Part Rua)

3 October 2012 15 comments

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After Education Minister, Hekia Patata’s dreadful performance on TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ on 30 September, it appears that her ‘minders’ have realised that she is not ‘selling’ the issues of  National Standards and Christchurch School closures, to the public.

In fact, her slip to Shane Taurima that National Standards data  was unreliable must have raised the eyebrows of every viewer in the country,

“ SHANE What’s the point of the information, though, if the Prime Minister, for example, he calls it ropey; the head of your own ministry, she has described it as unreliable.

HEKIA Well, what I have said all along is that it is variable. For the purposes of comparing schools, it is not reliable…”

As was her admission that school closures in Christchurch would add to the trauma already suffered by Cantabrians after two major earthquakes and 185 deaths,

 Well, look. School closures around the country under any administration around the country are always difficult. Here in Christchurch is a community that’s been under intolerable stress for a very long time

Parata didn’t just shoot herself in the foot in that interview – she kneecapped herself.

The consequence was that Parata appears no longer willing to be interviewed by the media.

She refused to accept John Campbell’s invitation to appear on his show on TV3 on 2 October – instead sending a bureacrat to front up, Ministry of Education chief executive, Lesley Longstone.

Longstone put on a brave face attempting to explain why so much of the Ministry’s information was completely wacko – as if they referred to schools in some other country (or maybe Planet Key) – but failed miserably,

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Source

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Little wonder that Parata refused to front. She would have been skewered and hung out to dry.

Again, this morning (3 October), Hekia Parata was invited to be interviewed on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘. Again, she refused point blank.

See: Radio NZ – Warning from Australia on National Standards

Ok, it’s possible that she had another engagement that prevented her from appearing on ‘Campbell Live‘ last night. But what was so pressing that she could not be on the phone to Radio NZ’s Geoff Robinson at 8.09am?

The answer is; nothing.

National’s policies on school closures and National Standards is an absolute mess. Parata is up to her neck in policies that are hard to defend; based on shonky data; and offer no real benefit to the education of our children.

Let’s be quite clear here; if National’s  so-called “reforms” were such a great idea, Parata should be willing and eager to front at every opportunity to defend  her policies and explain why they will help our children; communities; and country as  whole.

Her new-found ‘shyness’ is indicative of only one thing; her policies are indefensible and deeply resented by New Zealanders. Furthermore, judging by the response she has received from parents and teaching professionals, she has lost the trust of those people who rely on her judgement.

Hekia Parata is the Minister of Education. Her education policies are her responsibilty.

If she is unable or unwilling to front up to the public, then she has no business earning her $257,800 ministerial salary (plus perks, plus gold-plated superannuation) .

When it comes to education, where does the buck stop?

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Sources

See:  Q+A – Education Minister Hekia Parata (video)

See:  Q+A – Education Minister Hekia Parata (transcript)

Radio NZ: 13 schools to close, others to merge in Christchurch

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2011

Previous related blogpost

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools)

Parata preparing for another backdown?

Additional

School standards report card ‘ropey’

Schools claim merger data incorrect

Ministry admits some errors in data

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Parata preparing for another backdown?

2 October 2012 7 comments

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I – National Standards

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Wearing a Joker-like grin on TVNZ’s Q+A (30 September 2012) , National’s Education minister, Hekia Parata was interviewed by Shane Taurima  on ‘National Standards’ and planned closures and forced amalgamations of several Christchurch schools.

Her answers regarding ‘National Standards’ suggest that she is no long “owning” the policy and is attempting to shift “ownership” (or responsibility) on to schools and parents. Parata ducked questions and constantly pointed to schools and parents as if they were leading the charge for change,

SHANE Little Johnny’s off to school next year, so Mum and Dad are going to jump online to see how the schools in their area are performing. As things sit now, just how reliable and accurate is that [National Standards] information for Mum and Dad?

HEKIA So that’s one of the things Mum and Dad are going to do. It’s not going to replace Mum and Dad visiting the schools that they want to enroll their children in. What they’ll find on the website is not only the first year of National Standards data but the ERO report and the annual report that relate to the schools they’re thinking about.

[abridged]

HEKIA Schools have had faithfully reproduced the information that they have provided, so we’re relying on schools to tell us themselves what their valid and accurate data is…

[abridged]

HEKIA We are relying on schools to tell us that, and schools have. 2088 schools have produced their report on the 31st of May. It’s their data. We’re relying on their judgement.

[abridged]

HEKIA Well, it’s schools’ data…

[abridged]

HEKIA They can rely on what the schools have said about themselves…

Notice the constant reference back to schools? As if schools actually had choice in whether or not to participate in National’s programme?

But the most astounding comment came from Parata when she herself admitted that National Standards were every bit as ‘ropey’ as what Dear Leader Key had previously claimed.

SHANE What’s the point of the information, though, if the Prime Minister, for example, he calls it ropey; the head of your own ministry, she has described it as unreliable.

HEKIA Well, what I have said all along is that it is variable. For the purposes of comparing schools, it is not reliable

“Not reliable”?!?!

“NOT RELIABLE”???!!!

Key and National have spent millions of taxpayers’ dollars on implementing ‘National Standards’; have threatened schools that do not comply with demands for data; and have turned our education system on it’s head for something that is “not reliable“?!?!

I just about spat my coffee when I heard Parata utter those words.

If New Zealanders needed further proof that National is implementing loopy policies based more on weird right wing ideology than common sense – then Parata has provided it.

I ask my fellow New Zealanders who last year cast their vote for National;  do you think that a Party that implements a policy that has such far-ranging implications on our schools and children’s education; that spends millions of our taxes on these “reforms”; that has been discredited internationally by other countries; only to learn that “for the purposes of comparing schools, it is not reliable” – does this make any sense to you?

If you were a National supporter last year, you may wish to reconsider just what it was that you voted for?

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II – National Standards Internationally

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‘National Standards’ was all but put to the sword this morning (1 October) on Radio NZ’s ‘Check Point’, as visiting overseas Education professionals explained that the system was simplistic, unproven, and based more of ideological expectations rather than any realities we know about.

Pasi Sahlberg from Finland’s Ministry of Education rejected national standards, charter schools or league tables. Which is startling – as Finland is in the top four of the OECD ranking of developed nations’ education performance. The other three are Japan, Canada and South Korea.

Listen to Pasi Sahlberg here on  Radio NZ’s  Morning Report – International experts pan government education policies

Sahlberg knows what he is talking about. (Which is why Finland is outperforming New Zealand’s educational outcomes.)

As outlined in my previous blogpost of this issue – See: Finland, some thoughts – the Finns have rejected the simplistic policies of national standards, charter schools, and league tables. They see these as little more than a neo-liberalised view of education; an attempt to implement competition; notions of “success” and “failure”; and the illusion of “choice”.

In fact, those with a fairly good memory will recall that previous National Governments tried precisely the same policies with our health system, implementing the CHE model for our hospitals.

Essentially “CHEs” were expected to compete against each other; drive down costs; become more efficient through “competition”; and all with less ands less funding.

Not only did it not work, but people on waiting lists – like Southland farmer, Colin Morrison – died waiting for life-saving medical procedures.

The Minister of  Health at the time was Bill English.

See: Widow says little improvement seem

See: GP hits out at health reforms

See: Died waiting for by-pass

See: Word today on heart list

See: Anger on heart op delay

Instead of adopting dumbed-down Americanised systems – which are the desperate clutchings of a failed market-driven society – it is  worth thinking about the success story shown by nations such as Finland,

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The flexible curriculum is set by the Ministry of Education and the Education Board. Education is compulsory between the ages of 7 and 16. After lower secondary school, graduates may either enter the workforce directly, or apply to trade schools or gymnasiums (upper secondary schools). Trade schools prepare for professions. Academically oriented gymnasiums have higher entrance requirements and specifically prepare for Abitur and tertiary education. Graduation from either formally qualifies for tertiary education.

In tertiary education, two mostly separate and non-interoperating sectors are found: the profession-oriented polytechnics and the research-oriented universities. Education is free and living expenses are to a large extent financed by the government through student benefits. There are 20 universities and 30 polytechnics in the country. Helsinki University is ranked 75th in the Top University Ranking of 2010.

The World Economic Forum ranks Finland’s tertiary education #2 in the world. Around 33% of residents have a tertiary degree, similar to Nordics and more than in most other OECD countries except Canada (44%), United States (38%) and Japan(37%). The proportion of foreign students is 3% of all tertiary enrolments, one of the lowest in OECD, while in advanced programs it is 7.3%, still below OECD average 16.5%.

More than 30% of tertiary graduates are in science-related fields. Forest improvement, materials research, environmental sciences, neural networks, low-temperature physics, brain research, biotechnology, genetic technology and communications showcase fields of study where Finnish researchers have had a significant impact.

Finland had a long tradition of adult education, and by the 1980s nearly one million Finns were receiving some kind of instruction each year. Forty percent of them did so for professional reasons. Adult education appeared in a number of forms, such as secondary evening schools, civic and workers’ institutes, study centers, vocational course centers, and folk high schools. Study centers allowed groups to follow study plans of their own making, with educational and financial assistance provided by the state. Folk high schools are a distinctly Nordic institution. Originating in Denmark in the nineteenth century, folk high schools became common throughout the region. Adults of all ages could stay at them for several weeks and take courses in subjects that ranged from handicrafts to economics.

Finland is highly productive in scientific research. In 2005, Finland had the fourth most scientific publications per capita of the OECD countries. In 2007, 1,801 patents were filed in Finland.

Source:  Wikipedia

Here’s a novel idea; why not chase Finland’s example rather than America, which is way down on the OECD education performance listing?

Why? Because Finland invests heavily in education. National’s screwy policies are about market-driven competition and cost-cutting.

Didn’t that work out well for CHEs and Colin Morrison?

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III – Christchurch School Closures – Back-down imminent?

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Hekia Parata’s statements, on Q+A (30 September), regarding school closures and amalgamations in quake-ravaged Christchurch, were not as hard-line as previously reported in the media.

In fact, Parata was at pains to insist that,

We are following the process that is set out in the Education Act. We’re being very clear what the proposal is, and I and the Ministry of Education will listen to everything that is said by the community. There is no pre-determined outcome. We are listening.”

Up till this point, his blogger found it hard to work out National’s understanding of this crisis,

… that National was totally oblivious to the shock, trauma, and suffering of Christchurch residents after two major earthquakes that shattered their city, killing  185 people, and is foisting their brutish policies without considering their impact,

… or, that National understood the trauma felt by Christchurch residents – but was pushing ahead anyway.

Pressed by  Taurima, Parata made this jaw-dropping confession,

Well, look. School closures around the country under any administration around the country are always difficult. Here in Christchurch is a community that’s been under intolerable stress for a very long time. “

Christchurch “is a community that’s been under intolerable stress for a very long time“?!?!

So National – being a Party brimming over with humanitarian compassion – compounds the intolerable stress by adding to it?!

Now, I’ve no doubt that there is a sizeable faction of any society that has psycopathic tendencies and finds it hard to empathise with the misery of people who’ve survived a traumatic, destructive disaster.

But most New Zealanders are not cold-hearted, bean-counting, self-centered, quasi-psychopaths to whom the destruction of communities can be easily brushed aside in the pursuit of efficiencies. New Zealanders will view events unfolding in Christchurch with growing dismay.

Their thoughts will probably run along lines something like this,

Bugger me! What if the Big One hit my town? Is this what National has in store for me, my family, and my community?”

This is when the Middle Classes start to feel… uneasy.

Expect opposition to grow in Christchurch.

Expect to see distraught families and crying children on our TV screens.

Expect to see National drop in the polls.

Expect to see Hekia Parata back down on this loathsome, inhuman issue.

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IV – Proposed School Closures & Electorates

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Planned Closures

Banks Avenue School – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N)  – Majority: 47

Branston Intermediate – Wigram – Megan Woods (L) – Majority: 1,500

Burnham School – Selwyn – Amy Adams (N) – Majority: 19,451

Burnside Primary School – Ilam – Gerry Brownlee (N) – Majority: 13,312

Duvauchelle School (becomes a hub of Akaroa Area School) – Selwyn – Amy Adams (N) – Majority: 19,451

Glenmoor School – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N)  – Majority: 47

Greenpark School – Wigram – Megan Woods (L) – Majority: 1,500

Hammersley Park School – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N)  – Majority: 47

Kendal School- Ilam – Gerry Brownlee (N) – Majority: 13,312

Le Bons Bay School – Selwyn – Amy Adams (N) – Majority: 19,451

Linwood Intermediate – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N)  – Majority: 47

Manning Intermediate – Wigram – Megan Woods (L) – Majority: 1,500

Okains Bay School (becomes a hub of Akaroa Area School) – Selwyn – Amy Adams (N) – Majority: 19,451

Ouruhia Model School – Christchurch East -  Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334

Richmond School – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N)  – Majority: 47

Schools to close and merge

Schools to become Year 1 to 13:

Aranui High School – Christchurch East -  Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334

Aranui School – Christchurch East -  Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334

Avondale School – Christchurch East -  Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334

Chisnallwood Intermediate - Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334

Wainoni Primary School - Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334

Mergers

Burwood School and Windsor School on Windsor School site - Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334

Discovery One School and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti as Year 1 to 13 school – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N)  – Majority: 47

Freeville and New Brighton North School – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334

Linwood Avenue School and Bromley School on Bromley School site – Port Hills – Ruth Dyson (L) – Majority: 3,097

Lyttleton Main School and Lyttleton West School – Port Hills – Ruth Dyson (L) – Majority: 3,097

Philipstown School and Woolston School (moving to new site) – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N)  – Majority: 47 — Port Hills – Ruth Dyson (L) – Majority: 3,097

South New Brighton School and Central New Brighton School – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o te Whanau and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Waitaha – Wigram – Megan Woods (L) – Majority: 1,500 — Port Hills – Ruth Dyson (L) – Majority: 3,097

Schools in Labour-held electorates: 22

Schools in National-held electorates: 14

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Sources

See:  Q+A – Education Minister Hekia Parata (video)

See:  Q+A – Education Minister Hekia Parata (transcript)

Radio NZ: 13 schools to close, others to merge in Christchurch

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2011

Previous related blogpost

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools)

Additional

School standards report card ‘ropey’

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From the National Party Politburo…

13 July 2012 7 comments

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The latest diktat from Commissar Parata: no more criticism of National Party policy will be tolerated.

This blogger now awaits the National Party hierarchy to send in state security (Police? Army? SIS?) to raid offices and homes of School Trustees.

As we saw with police raids on various media offices after the Teapot Tape debacle, National is not averse to using it’s State apparatus when it suits it’s agenda.

Tertiary Education Commissar, Steven Joyce issued similar instructions to University students, to cease their criticsms of National,

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Full story

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So much for respect for freedom of speech.

Will blogs be next?

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Tui time, Dear Leader?

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“Over time, as they get to see the merits of the overall programme and recognise what the Government’s trying to do, which is basically to build more assets for New Zealanders but not put more debt on the balance sheet, and as they have an opportunity to invest, I think they will warm to that. I think it will take some time but I think they will get there.”

Source

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If  Dear Leader thinks that the public will “warm” to the idea of asset sales, then he is further out of touch than I ever thought possible,

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Unless Dear Leader is privy to research that the rest of us are not, every poll thus far shows steadfast public opposition to asset sales. Even two polls on politicians’ websites – one, Peter Dunne, and another belonging to  Bill English – showed a massive opposition tostate asset sales. (Neither polls are accessible on those websites, and have been taken down.

See:  Is Peter Dunne about to become the Man of the Year?

As the first sale nears, National will find public antipathy and pressure increasing. National’s own internal polling is probably showing anger increasing and support for National dropping.

The next public opinion polls will be crucial. If National stays steady in poll ratings – the sale process will proceed.

If National drops below 40% in those polls – expect the sale process to go the same way as Hekia Parata’s plans to increase class-room sizes.

In which case, John Key’s only “exit strategy” is to “post-pone” the sales indefinitely and put the blame on an increasingly uncertain global situation.

Why not? He’s used that excuse countless times before.

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Other blogs

Tumeke:  Why people hate John Key

 

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Citizen A – 7 June 2012 – Online now!

16 June 2012 2 comments

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Citizen A

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- 7 June 2012 -

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David Slack & Claudette Hauiti -

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Issue 1: Has National underestimated smaller class sizes? Was Hekia set up?

Issue 2: Stopping abusers and killers from having babies – Child protection or divisive bennie bashing for political gain

Issue 3: The Greens hold their party conference in the weekend, what are the challenges facing them taking a serious role in any Government post 2014?

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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Why Judith Collins should be sacked

13 June 2012 1 comment

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In my previous blogpost,  Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked, I outlined three reasons why Minister Parata should not be sacked from her role as Minister of Education.

In essence, though her policy of increasing class size and cutting teacher numbers was unpopular with the country, she had done nothing inappropriate (that we know of) or underhand. Unpopularity, by itself, is a poor reason to sack any elected representative – or else we’d be having elections to fill vacancies on a weekly basis.

The same, however, cannot be said of ACC Minister, Judith Collins.

There has been some very dodgy dealings going on at the very highest levels and Minister Collins has been implicated in events that have yet to be adequately explained,

  1. Who leaked Bronwyn Pullar’s name to the NZ Herald?
  2. Who leaked Ms Pullar’s information to a certain right-wing blogger?
  3. What was right-wing activist, and National Party apparatchik, Simon Lusk’s involvement in this issue?
  4. Did Collins know that the report from ACC contained falsehoods?
  5. If the answer to #4 is in the affirmative, when did she become aware of the falsehoods?
  6. Why has Minister Collins not called for an investigation into the authors of the report?

Instead of acting decisively to get to the bottom of this extraordinary matter, Collins’ reaction has been to… issue demation lawsuits against Labour MPs Andrew Little and Trevor Mallard!? How does suing MPs,  who are asking hard questions, help clear up this murky affair?

It is clear to even the most partisan National supporter that ACC’s management was out of control and engaging in dubious activities. At the very least,  the Police complaint laid by ACC against Bronwyn Pullar appears to constitute an offence of wasting Police time.

Minister Collins appears not only to have done nothing to resolve this unmitigated mess – but appears to have some form degree of involvement, yet to be determined.

John Key has no option. He must stand down Judith Collins immediatly and ensure than any and all investigations include her office as well.

What we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg – and god knows what lies beneath the surface.

Judith Collins must go.

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Additional

Full list of Bronwyn Pullar’s complaints against ACC

Recording reveals public was misled over extortion claims

TV3 60 Minutes:  The Eye of the Storm

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Teachers first – now the Police?

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Heroes

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Zeroes

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Watch a few minutes of Police Ten-7  and one is left with two, over-whelming, depressing  conclusions;

  1. There are idiots in society whom evolution has over-looked when natural selection was dishing out brain power,
  2. Police are not paid enough to handle those idiots – many of whom are off their faces on cheap alcohol; drugs; alcohol and drugs; and youthful stupidity.

Policing is not a job many of us would willingly do.  As one policeman’s wife recently wrote,

Due to understaffing he is often on his own in dangerous siituations waiting for back up. I would like to see people who complain about the Police let their loved ones go and do the job. Let’s get some of the MP’s out plodding the beat dealing with gang fights, domestic abuse, child abuse and drunk, drugged and armed offenders be called names I can’t repeat all for the occassional thank you and low pay. ” - Source

Since 1890, 29 policemen have been killed in the line of duty.

Others, like Gisborne policeman Nigel Hendrikse, was viciously stabbed by a gangmember and forced to quit the policeforce because of his injuries.

Considering the daily stresses and violence faced by these gutsy men and women in our police force, it beggars belief that politicians came come up with this kind of… crap,

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

Full story

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Our police… over-paid ?!?!

One can understand politicians being over-paid.

One can understand Hollywood actors and fashion models being over-paid.

But what bureacrat or politician  could possibly suggest that police are over-paid?

Note the statement from Police hierarchy,

This would generate significant savings for them from 2015 onwards with new constables employed on much lower remuneration, existing staff frozen on their 2015 remuneration until proposed new rates catch up with them, which could be for 10 years or more, and a number of existing allowances removed for new staff. “- Ibid

It appears that National has not learnt a single lesson from the recent classroom size/teacher reduction debacle and is now targetting expenditure within the police budget.

This blogger’s first reaction was one of incredulous dis-belief; that National could even consider the notion of cutting police salaries.

Right wing political parties are usually mindlessly gung-ho when it comes to resourcing police and imposing harsher penalties for law-breakers. Part of National’s election campaign last year was a predictable “tough on crime”  theme,

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How National can “stay strong on crime”  when it plans to cut Police salaries defies understanding. Do the Nats expect crims to  hand themselves in after  phoning 0800-come-arrest-me ? (Considering how 0800 numbers seem to work miracles with Housing NZ.)

It is also difficult to understand the following,

  • How did the Police hierarchy and the Minister of Police arrive at a figure of 20% “over payment” for police officers? (Please, please, please don’t say “Treasury told us”. Please.)
  • What is “performance-based pay” and how will  “performance” be measured?
  • What will be the result of a policy of reducing salaries by 20%? How many police officers will end up moving to Australia?
  • How does reducing police pay meet John Key’s pledges to raise wages in this country?

A further question; is what  voters wanted when they voted  for National last year? To reduce pay for police?

It is also outrageous that “sworn officers would also have to work five hours’ overtime instead of three before they got time off in lieu“.  (Source)

Hell, why pay Police anything at all? They get a nice, blue, snappy-looking  uniform and shiny ‘cuffs and tasers – they want money as well ?!

It appears that Police Minister, Anne Tolley, having noted Hekia Parata’s public humiliation over the class size backdown, is keeping her head down. She is refusing to comment, claiming that it is  inappropriate for the minister to comment on wage negotiations.

National has opened a can of worms on this issue and appears to have learnt nothing from the late 1990s, when it went through a similar process,

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Opposition parties, Police Association attack review – 12 June 1998

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Whilst National plans to cut back on police salaries, to pursue it’s agenda of a balancing the books by 2014-15, other areas of government spending do not seem to attract the same fiscal razor,

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

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Contrasting National’s plans to cut police pay with above stories of scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money may  elicit a mixture of head-shaking resignation, revulsion, and anger from the reader. Do not be alarmed: that is a normal response.

If you believe that Police are “over-paid” and that National is justified in cutting their salaries, you are most likely a  committed National supporter and loyal follower of Dear Leader. In which case you  are a part of the problem. (And if these cuts go ahead; and  next time you are burgled you have to wait a week for a police response team to arrive on your doorstep; you deserve everything  you get. You voted for this mess.)

National’s ‘cut & slash’ mentality was tried in the late 1990s. It failed then. It will fail again. This blogger can foresee the results, because New Zealander went through this over a decade ago.

The question is; will my fellow Kiwis who voted National last year ever learn a simple fact; voting for the Tories is an own-goal.  Key and his cronies may offer us ‘lollies’ in the form of tax cuts – but concommitant with that is slashed social and other government services. Tax cuts = cut services.

It can’t be made plainer than that.

Any New Zealander who doesn’t get that should look at Greece. There is a lesson we should all take note of.

In the meantime, National’s policy of cutting salaries and services will result in some very unhappy policemen and women. This blogger hopes that the Minister, Anne Tolley (not noted for her political astuteness) will understand the sh*t-storm about to hit her portfolio and close it down quickly by abandoning any notion of cuts to the Police.

Hekia Parata should have a chat with her.

Postscript

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Subject:   A blogger’s ‘take’ on threatened cuts to Police pay…
Date: Saturday, 9 June, 2012 7:35 PM
From:  “Frank Macskasy” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
To: “Anne Tolley” <anne.tolley@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc:”Chris Hipkins” <chris.hipkins@parliament.govt.nz>, “Chris Laidlaw RNZ” <sunday@radionz.co.nz>, “Daily News” <editor@dailynews.co.nz>, “Daily Post” <editor@dailypost.co.nz>, “Dominion Post” <editor@dompost.co.nz>, “Hutt News” <editor@huttnews.co.nz>, “Jim Mora” <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>, “John Key” <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>, “Kim Hill” <saturday@radionz.co.nz>, “Listener” <editor@listener.co.nz>, “Metiria Turei” <metiria.turei@parliament.govt.nz>, “Morning Report” <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>, “Nine To Noon RNZ” <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>, “NZ Herald” <editor@herald.co.nz>, “Otago Daily Times” <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>, “Q+A” <Q+A@tvnz.co.nz>, “Southland Times” <editor@stl.co.nz>, “The Press” <letters@press.co.nz>, “The Wellingtonian” <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>, “TVNZ News” <news@tvnz.co.nz>, “Waikato Times” <editor@waikatotimes.co.nz>, “Wairarapa Times-Age” <editor@age.co.nz>

Dear Ms Tolley,

For your perusal;

Teachers first – now the Police?

http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/teachers-first-now-the-police/

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Subject:  Thank you for your email
Date: Saturday, 9 June, 2012 7:35 PM
From: “Hon. Anne Tolley (MIN)” <Anne.Tolley@parliament.govt.nz>
To: “Frank Macskasy” <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>

 On behalf of Hon Anne Tolley, thank you for your email which has been received by this office.  Your correspondence has been noted and will be recorded. 

 Your email will be forwarded to the Minister for consideration, and a response will be sent as soon as possible.  However, if your email is bringing some information to the attention of the Minister, please regard this as a final response to your email.

 Kind regards

The Office of Hon Anne Tolley

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Related blogposts

History Lesson – Rua – Police

Other blogs

Minister’s rose-tinted glasses are two generations out of date

Media reports

Police say officers overpaid

Police union rejects bid for performance-based pay

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Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked

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Dominion Post poll

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Disclaimer: This blogger is not a National Party voter. In fact, Hell would experience a Christchurch-style snowstorm before I would support National in any manner – unless it was to assist them to call an early election.

Having said that, there are three reasons why Hekia Parata does not deserve being stood down as Minister of Education – despite the debacle over classroom sizes and cutting teacher numbers.

1. Collective Responsibility

Parata’s attempt to cut back on teacher numbers was a budgetary consideration handed down from on-high, from Bill English’s office.

Since 2008, National has been cutting back on government departments and state sector employees.  Almost every part of government – from the Department of Conservation to the NZ Defence Force – has been forced to cut staffing numbers.  These cuts were part of National’s policy of reducing state expenditure after their April 2009 and October 2010 tax-cuts.

See: Thirty-five jobs may go at Niwa

See: DOC confirms 96 jobs to go

See: MFAT plan puts 50 jobs on the line

See: Housing NZ staff face further cuts

See: 2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

See: IRD cuts 51 provincial jobs

With massive borrowings of $380 million a week; a ballooning deficit; and a shortfall in taxation revenue, National is deperate for deep cuts if it is to balance the books by 2014-15.

As journalist Duncan Garner wrote earlier this year in January,

Key has finally dropped the optimism and is talking about the downside. He doesn’t do downside well – he prefers the good news.

But there’s no walking away from the reality. The Government’s treasured surplus target in 2014/15 may not happen. And if it wants to get there then more cuts are on the way. “

See: Economy on skids, cuts to come

Parata’s Plan to cut teaching staff and increase classroom sizes was dressed up as “improving teaching quality and professional leadership” – which was exposed as patent bollocks when she stated,

The changes to teacher:student funding ratios were to have saved the Government around $174 million over four years, of which $60 million was going to be invested in improving teaching quality and professional leadership. “

See: Teacher funding ratios to remain the same

Sacking Parata for policies that every other Minister has been implementing seems pointless. Especially when National’s essential policy of cutting expenditure and services would remain unchanged.

That is the real crux of the matter; an ongoing programme of  reduction in  social services because of two tax cuts we could ill afford, and which National was irresponsible in making.

2. No mis-deed

Parata did nothing illegal, immoral, or inappropriate.

She simply carried out National Party policy.

So if  the buck stops anywhere, it should be on the desks of Dear Leader John Key, and Finance Minister Bill English. At this point, rather than unfairly targetting one single person, we should be looking at National as a whole.

Will the Prime Minister take responsibility for National’s slash a burn of the state sector? Fat chance.  Thus far,  Dear Leader has shown little inclination to taken responsibility for anything – unless it involved opening the Rugby World Cup; supping beer with visiting royalty; or other smile and wave photo-ops.

In fact, John Key seems more than willing to allow Hekia Parata to be hung out to dry on this issue.

This blogger sees no political gain in demanding Ms Parata’s head on a plate.

However, in the spirit of collective responsibility and shared culpability, National  should resign and call for an early election. The classroom/teacher debacle has impacted on National’s mandate and an early election is necessary to restore confidence in government.

3. Who would replace her?

Perhaps the strongest reason not to sack Parata is simply that it would achieve very little for National’s opponants. John Key would simply replace her with another Minister – one perhaps tougher and more doggedly determined in pursuing narrow, National Party policy.

Better Parata, a chastened lame duck -  than a cocky pitbull, looking to prove himself in the eyes of his fellow Tories.

Keeping Parata as Education Minister, it is unlikely that she will attempt further cuts to the education sector. Not unless she has a deeper masochistic streak we were unaware of?

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Postscript

Further to my previous blogpost where I wrote,

Congratulations to National.

John Key, Bill English, Hekia Parata, et al, have succeeded in teaching our children their first lesson in politics. An entire generation of children have seen political machinations at work, first hand, and the “bad guys” were ministers from  the National Party.

When our children learn about the Right Wing in politics, in such a personalised, in-your-face manner, the future of this country suddenly became a lot more rosy.

Future support for the Greens, Labour, and other centre-left Parties is all but assured.

Thank you, Ms Parata. You are a fine teacher for our young folk.

Duncan Garner wrote in his blog on 6 June,

I got home last night and my 12-year-old step daughter was waiting for me with a stern message: “We all hate John Key,” she exclaimed.

Why, I said – pretending to be shocked by it all, but secretly knowing what she was about to say.

“Well, he’s going to close our cooking and technology classes at our school. So we all hate him. And we’re writing him letters – no one likes him at our school anymore,” she said.

I won’t name the school. But whether or not she’s right, and whether or not this Government backpedals on its move to increase class sizes, the fallout is immense – and perception is reality – especially for the children and their mums and dads.

See:  Hekia Parata should’ve asked one simple question

John Key’s legacy for the future:  an entire generation alienated by this arrogant National government -  a gift  of immeasurable value to the left wing. Just as many who lived through the “reforms” of Roger Douglas in the 1980s use the term “Rogernomics” as a pejorative, to describe destructive, extremist, politics from a past era.

No one saw that coming.

And now, waiting in the wings,  the coming asset sales furore…

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Additional

Colin James: A win for Shearer. But much work still to do

Related Blogpost

Class-sizes, pigs wearing lipstick, and State-enforced sterilisation

Other blogs

Minister’s rose-tinted glasses are two generations out of date

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Class-sizes, pigs wearing lipstick, and State-enforced sterilisation

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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When National released it’s 2012 Budget on 24 May, it either over-looked the issue of increasing class-sizes and cutting of teacher numbers (which is what National’s “capping” actually is)   – or woefully  under-estimated  the angry  reaction from Middle Class New Zealand.

Teachers, Principals, Boards of Trustees, and Parents formed a United Front opposing National’s proposals. The public were no fools – after three and a half years they understand only to  well was “capping” meant.

See:  2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

Regardless of whether they overlooked or under-estimated the reaction -  Education Minister, Hekia Parata, was left looking like a possum in the middle of the road, with a  Public Juggernaut bearing down on her.

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As recently as 6 June, Ms Parata was adamant; there would be no backdown on the reforms,

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Pressure on the Education Minister mounted. National was coming under concerted attack from Opposition parties; parents; schools; and the community itself. There was little doubt that John Key’s government had bitten off far more than it could chew, and had seriously underestimated the public mood on this issue.

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By 6 June, John Key was giving Parata the message to “sort this sh*t out”, when he told her,

It is important she engages with them…in the end the government’s got its policy but the administration of that policy happens through schools themselves and the unions play an important role in that. “

See:  Education Minister must meet unions – PM

Though in reality, Key’s credibility itself was taking several serious hits. Firstly, the revelations that Key sent his children to private schools, which boasted smaller class sizes for bettering educational outcomes, did not go down well with the public. In fact, most folk probably detected more than a hint of strong stench of hypocrisy from Dear Leader,

”  Prime Minister John Key’s son attended King’s College in Otahuhu, which said on its website: “Class sizes are limited and our policy of a low pupil-to-teacher ratio ensures students are given greater individual attention in the classroom”. “

See: Ministers’ kids skip big classes

Then Key’s let-them-eat-cake-comment further raised the ire of the public, when he said,

In reality we are saying over the course of a three year period the maximum impact on any school can be two [full time equivalent teachers]. Now that that is not a dramatic impact.over all. ” – Source

To which, by now, the public were becoming more than a little bemused, and a “Screw you, mate!” hardening of attitude was started to fester.

Being paid $411,100 a year out of our taxes is one thing. But messing with our children’s education whilst sending your own offspring to private schools was going beyond public tolerance.

National’s party strategists  soon began to pick up mounting public anger.

National MPs were being flooded with angry emails and other correspondence at their electorate offices.

National’s polling (no doubt with David Farrar’s able, tax-payer funded, assistance) began registering a seismic shift in public opinion – none of it positive for the Nats.

The shitski – as they say in Russia – was hitting the fanski. Time for Plan B:

Initiate Default Deflection Plan – Look over there!

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Social Welfare Minister duly stepped into the glare of public attention with suggestions of the State forcibly removing children from unfit parents – which the State can already do, by the way, considering the number of children in CYFS care. But Bennett went further, with hints of forced sterilisation and court orders permanently banning  “unfit parents” from reproducting.

(If these plans had included banning certain politicians from breeding… )

This deflection achieved only modest success. It failed to spark the raging public debate which Bennett created with her plans, last month,  to “encourage” solo-mums (but never solo-dads) to go on contraception to prevent having further children.

See:  Beneficiary contraception plan ‘intrusive’

That debate raged – but never went anywhere. It died  a quiet ‘death’ and barely anyone remembers it now (oh, that public amnesia is getting worse). But it did it’s job, deflecting public attention from worsening economic stats and growing unemployment figures.

See:  Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

The purpose of Bennett’s political “hand grenade” was not to seriously force solo-mums (but never solo-dads) on to contraception.  A cursory check of the dates of the report – Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc – shows it was a public issue at the same moment as Beneficiary contraception plan ‘intrusive’ .

Public deflection, using highly controversial “dog whistle” politics – works every time. (That’s why they call it “dog whistle” politics!)

However, not this time. As Hekia Parata stood paralysed on the road, with the  juggernaut of public opinion bearing down on her and her colleagues, one must always remember;   in such situations, possums always come of second best,

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As Mathew Mannine, one-time National-voter;  Wellington father of three; and protestor against plans to increase classes,  said on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint,

Well, as they say, a pig’s a pig even if you put lipstick on it, and I think that’s what she was trying to do, and there was no way at all, from the parents I’ve spoken to, that this policy would’ve flown. “

Indeed. So saith Middle New Zealand – a lesson National has learnt the hard way.

Two further interesting points arise from this debacle.

1.

Hekia Parata says that canning this policy will incur a cost,

The changes to teacher:student funding ratios were to have saved the Government around $174 million over four years, of which $60 million was going to be invested in improving teaching quality and professional leadership. “

This is a  rather candid admission that reducing teacher numbers and increasing class sizes was never about “teaching quality”.

Let us disabuse ourselves of that fantasy; this was about cost-cutting pure-and-simple, and talk of  “improving teaching quality” was nothing more than a fiction.  This was National engaging in window dressing, to cover up a blatant exercise in reducing spending in education.

Anyone who believes otherwise should contact this blogger – I have shares in Wellington Harbour bridge going very cheap.

2.

Congratulations to National.

John Key, Bill English, Hekia Parata, et al, have succeeded in teaching our children their first lesson in politics. An entire generation of children have seen political machinations at work, first hand, and the “bad guys” were ministers from  the National Party.

When our children learn about the Right Wing in politics, in such a personalised, in-your-face manner, the future of this country suddenly became a lot more rosy.

Future support for the Greens, Labour, and other centre-left Parties is all but assured.

Thank you, Ms Parata. You are a fine teacher for our young folk.

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Related Blogposts

Frankly speaking on Budget 2012

Media

Listen to reaction on Radio NZ Checkpoint

Listen to parent’s reaction on Radio NZ Checkpoint

Media Release

Hekia Parata:  Teacher funding ratios to remain the same

Other blogs

John Minto:  Minister’s rose-tinted glasses are two generations out of date

Just Left:  Smaller class sizes — for people like us

Local Bodies:  Hekia’s Huge Tui Billboard!

Local Bodies:  Parata’s Future?

Robert Guyton: National Folds

Red Alert: Who Reads Hekia’s Advice?

The Standard: Flip-flop still leaves hole in education budget

The Standard: Parata to the Headmaster’s office?

Pundit: Don’t look here! Look over there!

Gordon Campbell on the turmoil in education

No Right Turn: Anger works

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