Government must front up on Green School deal

The Government must explain why it won’t back-down from a deal to give the private elite ‘Green School’ $11.7m in taxpayer cash, National’s Education spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has stated that he has no intention of pulling out of the deal. 

“This disgraceful deal shows the Government’s cavalier attitude towards taxpayers’ money. If the decision can be reversed without a breach of the Crown's obligations then it should be. The Government should be asking Crown Law for legal advice about its options and whether it's too late to back-out.

“We need to know if there is a contract in place for this deal and if so on what basis it was signed. If the Government is using taxpayers’ money we need to know if there are there any conditions or obligations on the school to be receiving this extraordinary sum of money.

“James Shaw himself has admitted he thinks it is a mistake so why is it going ahead? 

“The decision-making around this multi-million deal is incompetent and haphazard. We’re told James Shaw was the person lobbying for it and also that he ‘missed it’. It seems like no due diligence was done around the Cabinet table before signing the cheque and there is a multitude of questions that need to be addressed:

  • Was the Ministry of Education asked for advice? If so what was that advice?
  • How many students are currently on the roll and of those how many are domestic enrolments?
  • Will the school be viable without growth in international students?
  • Has the school met Ministry of Education conditions for registration?
  • What happens to the taxpayer-funded school buildings if the business fails?

“If the Government has locked New Zealand into a contractual undertaking then it will have to honour it. In short, taxpayers may be forced to swallow the rat. A rat born of the Government's careless approach to New Zealanders’ money.”