National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says the extraordinary admission by Kelvin Davis that he will not answer questions regarding the impact of his Government’s policies on young Māori raises more serious questions about the Government’s handling of partnership schools.
“There are close to 800 young Māori in partnership schools that have been terminated by the Government with no certainty about their future and yet the Associate Education Minister refuses to address the impact this will have on them.
“Kelvin Davis promised to fight for these students by offering to resign if partnership schools close but has now confirmed today that he has declared a conflict of interest and will not take any questions or have any responsibility for the young Māori in these schools.
“The timing of his admission that he has now declared a potential conflict is of public interest given that papers have already been to Cabinet over the last six months on partnership schools. The timing also matters given he had discussions with schools in his electorate in his role while potentially conflicted.
“Questions also still remain as to whether other ministers have declared conflicts regarding these schools.
“I lodged a complaint several months ago with the Office of the Auditor-General and raised issues of potential conflicts and perceived preferential treatment, however, the Deputy Controller and Auditor-General did not speak to Kelvin Davis about this.
“The Deputy Controller did note that the Minister of Education was keeping Cabinet informed and ‘might need to seek Cabinet approval if any policy changes or new funding are necessary.’ He also said that ‘depending on the nature of these decisions or input, any potential conflicts of interest will need to be identified and managed.’
“Despite questions to the Prime Minister to try and determine conflicts in the past this information has not been in the public domain.
“The Minister and other Ministers need to release both information on the exact nature of any declared conflict of interests and the date(s) they were declared to ensure no breaches of the Cabinet Manual.
“This latest development follows a long line of process issues and bad treatment of partnership schools.”