Former education minister, Anne Tolley, and John Key have some serious explaining to do,
It is a serious matter for a Minister of the Crown to allege that a news-media story has been fabricated. Aside from being potentially slanderous – it is a distasteful mis-use of ministerial power. It is State power attempting to intimidate and destroy the credibility of the media.
This is Third World, banana-republic stuff.
It is not what we expect from our elected representative. (And make no mistake, MPs are our elected representatives – well-paid civil servants.)
“John Hone Riiwi Toia Mutu and wife Debroah Anne Mutu have been deregistered as teachers and ordered to pay $20,000 each in costs after a hearing by the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal.
Mrs Mutu was a principal at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe in 2004 when her husband, who was a teacher at the school, was found on a mattress with a 15-year-old student.
Mrs Mutu tore up the student’s written complaint about the incident, which occurred when she was home alone.
Mr Mutu was suspended by the school’s board of trustees in 2007 and his wife resigned in 2008, but she was later employed as a principal at a Kaitaia school before being appointed one of the Education Ministry’s 46 student achievement practitioners.
The practitioners are ministry-appointed experts sent into schools to help them implement national standards.
Labour has accused Mrs Tolley of misleading Parliament and the public after education spokeswoman Sue Moroney raised questions at the final question time last term on October 6.
Mrs Tolley replied, saying “that principal has never been suspended”.
A ministry spokesman said the information it had provided Mrs Tolley “at the time was correct” and it became aware of the allegations against Mrs Mutu only subsequently, when she appeared before the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal a few days later.
“The minister did not know at the time she answered questions in the House that Mrs Mutu had been stood down.
“Debroah Mutu had not fully disclosed the serious nature and extent of the charge against her to the ministry at any time prior to October 10.”
The ministry terminated Mrs Mutu’s practitioner role when it learnt she was before the tribunal, the spokesman said. It had since reviewed its secondment process.” – Source
This raises several issues,
- If, as a ministry of education spokesman claimed, “the information it had provided Mrs Tolley “at the time was correct” and it became aware of the allegations against Mrs Mutu only subsequently, when she appeared before the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal a few days later” – why did Tolley not issue a correction in the House at the first available opportunity?
- Key was asked if Tolley should have issued a correction when she discovered the principal had been stood down and Key replied, “That’s one option always available to a minister to make sure they correct that.”
- Will Tolley be issuing an apology to Radio NZ?
- Tolley is paid $257,800 (up from $249,100 prior to November) as a Cabinet Minister. If it is not her responsibility to ensure that she deals in facts – whose responsibility is it?
- How does the apparent incompetence of the Ministry of Education relate to this government’s on-going cuts to civil servants? Are we going to see more of these horrendous mistakes as National makes further cuts to government departments – until their efficiency is serious degraded to such a level that they cannot function in any meaningful fasion?
- And is this how the leaky homes fiasco and the down-grading of the mining safety Inspecorate began?
Conclusions based on public information seems to indicate the following;
- Anne Tolley mis-led Parliament by making statements denying that the Mutu’s had been struck off.
- Tolley’s intemperate remarks attacking Radio NZ were an abuse of ministerial power.
- Tolley was advised within a week about the Mutu’s being struck off – and did nothing about it. Despite knowing the true situation, she made no effort to correct her earlier statement to the House.
- The effectiveness of the Ministry of Education, and other government departments, may be threatened as ideologically-driven cutbacks began to have inevitable consequences to public service competance and productivity.
Considering that Ms Tolley is now Minister of Police, I believe the public need to be confident that she is competant and not prone to lashing out at news media who raise valid issues.
This blogger considers that she is not up to the task, and should stand down.