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It appears Chris Hipkins is taking advantage of his role of Leader of the House to avoid scrutiny in his Education portfolio, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.

“Leader of the House Chris Hipkins has engineered a situation which will see two education bills debated in the House at a time when committee members are obligated to attend Education and Workforce select committee hearings in Auckland.

“It is a sad day for Parliament when the Leader of the House uses his role to reduce scrutiny in his role as Education Minister. What’s worse is that these bills cover contentious issues such as the removal of partnership schools, National Standards and a bill replacing the Teachers Council.

“Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard criticised the process used to rush through the Education Amendment Bill this week when he spoke about the orchestrated clash and said ‘I do not think it is good practice for that to occur’.

“The select committee also applied for extensions to the process to account for late amendments by the Minister regarding partnership schools. However, Chris Hipkins blocked this extension and Government committee members forced a meeting.

“We acknowledge the courage of NZ First to support National letter to the Business Committee raising concerns about inadequate time for this Bill.

“Chris Hipkins has also come under increasing pressure from respected leaders such as Sir Toby Curtis and Lance O’Sullivan who urge him to listen regarding partnership schools.

“This is a Minister who from the outset has engaged in disrespectful parliamentary behaviour and has opened the Crown up to legal risk by terminating partnership schools prematurely and without contract termination, made late amendments to the legislation regarding schools without giving them adequate time to comment, refused to acknowledge the Waitangi Tribunal claim by iwi leaders despite legal papers being served months ago and was forced to correct Parliamentary answers admitting the Crown’s error.

“The Minister should remove provisions relating to partnership schools in the Education Amendment Bill until the Crown has met with iwi leaders to work through the Waitangi Tribunal claim. The members of the Education and Workforce Committee on both sides of the House deserve the opportunity to be in the Parliament for the full debate on the Bill.

“At the very least there should be an opportunity for all members of the select committee to speak on this legislation. The fact that there isn’t, shows a disregard for these schools, their students and basic parliamentary processes.”

Letter to Business Committee indicating majority support for an extension to Education Amendment Bill available here.

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