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Education Minister Chris Hipkins has today refused to answer questions on collective bargaining, an issue impacting teachers, parents and students across the country, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“Mr Hipkins has been in a gridlock over collective bargaining for 12 months with primary teachers and eight months for secondary, and today he refused to answer any questions around funding that may be appropriated for a settlement.

“Teachers striking has impacted not only teachers and their pay, but students who have missed out on hours of learning, and parents who have been forced to either find childcare or take days off work. We are at a key point in the negotiations and these are questions the Minister should answer.

“Despite this refusal, there were a number of key areas where the Minister has demonstrated complete incompetence, that the Government has broken promises and that it will not deliver the basics in education in key areas like school infrastructure.

“National expects an announcement tomorrow or in the coming days showing the Government has shifted on Mr Hipkins’ and the Prime Minister’s stubborn statements that there would be no more money for teachers. We’ve been asking for a resolution for some time.

“Cash payments for teachers and incentives to reduce workloads could be included as part of this impending announcement.

“National will be scrutinising the details around the shambolic timelines and process so far, whether the promises are recycled and whether the Government plans on binding future governments in aspects of the settlement. We hope this is settled quickly for teachers, parents and students.

“We also heard today the Minister and Ministry of Education confirm the Ministry has blown out by tens of millions of dollars in terms of additional spending on staff, consultants and reviews, prioritising officials at a time where the Minister and Prime Minister have claimed there is no more money to resolve collective bargaining.

“Mr Hipkins also cut the time he was due to appear in Select Committee and be questioned by the Opposition, and failed to provide answers to a number of questions that had been lodged prior to his appearance.

“This is a Government claiming to be the most open and transparent Government ever, but the Education Minister has shut down information in key areas.”

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