Reports that the Ministry of Education could take months to process pay rises as a result of the settlement is unacceptable, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“While it is good that Education Minister Chris Hipkins has said he will be ‘following up’ on the issue, there needs to be more urgency in sorting this out. The Minister should give an update on what is hopefully a revised timeline within the next 48 hours.
“I agree with NZEI that the Ministry of Education should be ensuring all resources are put into making this happen given there will be a number of teachers that will have been relying on these funds coming through.
“I have had messages from teachers frustrated and concerned about the delays. Some teachers are questioning the double standard where it took two pay cycles for the education payroll to deduct funds for strike action, but five pay cycles and close to three months since the actual date of settlement to ensure teachers are paid properly.
“The Government has prolonged negotiations for over a year for secondary teachers. The Ministry and Education Payroll had a long time to prepare for this.
“The reality is there are tens of thousands of teachers with bills to pay and mortgages that need the Minister and agencies to deal with this matter urgently.”
Documents released for consultation by the Ministry of Education demonstrate Labour’s donations scheme is hugely complicated and is being rushed through a flawed process. National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The Bill is under a truncated Select Committee timeline, and principals and boards were given less than a week to provide feedback on draft guidance for schools around the donations scheme. This is unreasonable given the complexities, definition issues and the impact on schools as to whether they choose to take up this offer.
“The document demonstrates schools will not be able to charge for a range of activities including many school camps and field trips. This will be complicated and difficult to implement. It may also see many more schools choosing not to take up the offer.
“National has previously raised other issues around inequity with the scheme that Labour has proposed, including the exclusion of deciles 8, 9 and 10, which we know have huge numbers of disadvantaged children attending.
“The 20 pages of guidance demonstrates that this will be an incredibly complicated scheme. The fear people have is that it will be difficult to implement and hugely inequitable.”
Protests today by several hundred Great Barrier Island residents and Ngati Rehua show the depth of opposition around marine dumping near Great Barrier Island, MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye says.
“I am aware of the 50,000 cubic meters of sediment that has occurred in the past. However, the latest consent approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of marine sludge is large scale and for a very long term into the future.
“A judicial review hearing challenging the Environmental Protection Authority’s decision to grant coastal resources limited a consent to dump 250,000 cubic meters of marine sludge per annum for 35 years 25 kilometres east of Great Barrier, will take place later in July. An appeal by local Iwi will also take place.
“Ngati Rehua claim there has been a failure by the EPA to properly consult iwi and local residents. They also claim a lack of alternatives considered to the proposed dumping and a significant impact on the natural environment. I understand the EPA dispute this and it is part of the judicial proceedings.
“As the local MP I recently held several public meetings on issues of marine protection on Great Barrier Island and Waiheke Island. These issues were raised and islanders expressed their major concerns about this activity and why there was a need to have large scale dumping in the waters near Great Barrier. Iwi also raised issues of wai tapu and the seabed.
“The alternatives to this marine dredging dumping could include landfill, cleanfill and as I understand it cement mix. The issue of marina dredging’s will need to be properly considered in the future. I think there are some wider issues for local body politicians to consider around this.
“I realise these issues are before a court. However, I am concerned to ensure that local iwi and Great Barrier Island residents voices are heard and properly considered. These waters are the backyard for barrier residents and they feel very strongly about these issues.”
The Government’s announcement today there is going to be 61 new schools by 2030 is a great goal, but is hollow without potentially billions of additional funding and large changes to school infrastructure delivery, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“In a place like Auckland, this announcement more than a year late. The high level plan is pretty similar to work done by the previous Government. Education Minister Chris Hipkins admitted at Select Committee the Government has only secured funding for 50 per cent of the cash required to fund the education infrastructure needed for the next 10 years.
“The Cabinet paper indicates the $1.2 billion will only fund 24,000 of the additional 100,000 student places needed in the next 10 years. National had previously provided for some places prior to leaving Government. There are 54,000 unfunded student places, 35,000 in Auckland and 18,500 nationally.
“The Government did not provide enough funding for what was needed for growth, which is surprising given the huge capital allowance it has now of which the previous National Government did not. National massively increased school property funding and cleaned up a number of legacy issues in the portfolio as well as signalling these growth plans.
“We do welcome some of the announcements made today for Auckland given we’ve got more than 200 schools over capacity, but the planning was in train 18 months ago and the Government has been slow off the mark.
“But with funding certainty only confirmed for one school out of 61, there’s still a long way to go. I have major concerns about the Ministry of Education’s capacity to deliver. In the last year there has been a huge underspend and the Minister has admitted major issues in the school construction market.
“The Government’s decision to scrap Public-Private Partnerships is a missed opportunity and not progressing plans to change the delivery of school infrastructure will mean real challenges for delivery.
“The Ministry is signalling many more enrolment schemes which could cause issues for some communities. In Auckland alone they are signalling 103 enrolment schemes in some of the 130 schools that do not currently have schemes.
“National will scrutinise the regional plans and ask the hard questions about providing certainty of funding and the timeline to deliver these classrooms and schools.”
Yesterday I held a meeting with the Chair of the local board for Waiheke Cath Handley and Auckland Transport where we raised issues regarding a lack of urgency on the ferry service issues, MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye says.
“I have since written to the Mayor and Minister raising a range of issues. In the short term it is clear there needs to be greater guarantees around ensuring elderly and vulnerable people are prioritised, including the delivery of a well-functioning locals lane.
“I have now formally requested Auckland Transport (AT) enter into discussions with Fullers to amend their access agreement to the wharves and AT have agreed to this. With further disruptions occurring over the last week, islanders need this sorted urgently. People are fed up with being left on wharves and the lack of progress.
“In the longer term it is my clear understanding from talking to AT that there is no technical barrier to Waiheke being included in integrated fares. If there is a subsidy the Council will have to pay this (due to the exempt route status).
“We need a timeline on the discussions between Fullers and AT and we need assurances that Fullers intends to be cooperative, swift and reasonable in their response. Otherwise Waiheke is on track to be left out of integrated fares by February next year alongside the rest of Auckland.
“In the longer term the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) review is occurring. It is concerning this review could take at least 12 months to possibly two years to complete. I have asked the Mayor and Minister to make this an urgent priority and provide a timeline on this.
“The exempt status needs to be lifted as soon as possible. Ideally this would occur in conjunction with Fullers, and a contract for services would also be negotiated.
“I understand a PwC audit is being undertaken by fullers, in my view a company that is under intense scrutiny around its services should not be commissioning an audit of itself.
“I have asked the Mayor to ensure there is either an independent audit of the company, or it should be at the very least jointly commissioned with AT to ensure the terms of reference are appropriate and that stakeholders are engaged.
“People need to be confidence there is going to be change with regards to services. We need greater urgency and assurances by the Minister and Mayor on these issues.”
Principals have today protested the Government’s pay offer outside Ministry of Education offices and have signalled further disruption by intending to stop Ministry related work, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“It is not clear what the full impact could be if this issue is not resolved but primary principals not filling in roll returns means it will be difficult for the Ministry to determine funding for schools.
“It is a tribute to the integrity and professionalism of principals that they are trying to have their voice heard while aiming to engage in activity that is the least disruptive to students, parents, teachers and schools.
“Primary principals are concerned the current settlement will see senior teachers or deputy principals paid more than some principals. This is a serious problem due to what is seen by some as a destruction of the career pathway for primary principals. We need more people wanting to be principals rather than less. They are also concerned about pay parity for principals.
“This issue particularly affects small rural school principals. Often their jobs are challenging due to isolation and other responsibilities, and they take on a wider variety of roles. There is an argument that the current pay system based on school size is a flawed model.
“While this action is targeted at the Ministry, there will be consequences and flow on effects through our education system as the break down between the Government and primary principals drags on.
“Principals are some of the most highly respected and valued members of our society. It is disappointing that this could not be resolved earlier.
“We need to ensure there is greater support for these principals who work long hours, solving often complex social and education issues involving children and their families, who manage staff and run major organisations.
“We need the Government to take this action seriously, it’s really important all parties get back to the table to resolve this.”
Today’s announcement that the primary teachers have settled is positive for the sector, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“However, news that primary principals have rejected their offer is concerning for New Zealand. Despite the forum of parties, there was little change to the primary principals offer from the one they rejected in march. One of the major concerns for primary principals is issues of relativity with what senior teachers or deputy principals will be paid under this settlement.
“Many principals will be supportive that teachers have had additional increases but are asking questions as to why they didn’t secure more favourable terms.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins personally negotiated these deals so he needs to answer some questions round how he thought a deal would be acceptable when a group of deputy principals and some teachers will earn more than principals.
“Some primary principals have raised serious questions about how we incentivise people to become principals when some teachers are going to earn more money than them. There are real issues of career pathways for principals.
“There are some serious issues around pay scales and the way kāhui ako, communities of learning, works with those pay scales, and these need to be resolved.
“Primary principals will raise issues of parity with secondary principals who are yet to reach an agreement.
“It’s really important all parties get back to the table and try and negotiate this. Delays are frustrating and cost teachers, parents and students.”
Documents obtained under the Official Information Act has revealed under the original design for the City Rail Link a plan was developed to reduce disruption which was never followed, MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye says.
“The ‘Social impact and business disruption delivery work plan’ was designed to avoid, remedy or mitigate the adverse effects arising from disruption to businesses has clearly been a box ticking exercise with little tangible benefit.
“It would be good to know how much was spent on developing the plan to prevent disruption which has seen more than a year of delay.
“Albert Street businesses are struggling financially and emotionally, and the Mayor and Transport Minister continue to try and ignore the issue despite the fact as shareholder representatives they sit on the City Rail Link Limited (CRLL) board.
“The documents show CRLL spent $72,000 on ‘supporting businesses’ including a cheap eats campaign and social media training. The businesses of Albert Street have made it clear they haven’t seen the benefit of this expenditure.
“CRLL have also blanket blocked access to information requested on briefings around costs. While some may need to be redacted, refusing all of it is excessive. This is taxpayer money that is being spent, and there is rightly huge public interest in understanding the cost blowouts of the City Rail Link.
“In particular there is little detail on the $150 million of ‘non-direct’ costs. CRLL claim it may impacts its ability to secure favourable terms from partners. At the very least we could have some indication of what this actually covers at a high level.
“The businesses on Albert St have had very poor treatment which has seen a number of them in very difficult situations. CRLL has treated them poorly with bad communication. I have advocated for some form of financial assistance via rates relief or some other support.
“The Minister and Mayor have previously tried to avoid important issues of fiscal responsibility and need to front up with more information including explaining why the CRLL did not follow the original plan to reduce disruption.”
At midnight tonight submissions will close on the Education (School Donations) Amendment Bill with a lot of parents and schools not having their chance to be heard, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The Government have rushed this legislation and not given schools and parents enough time to have their say. This Bill has the potential to have a large impact on parents and schools and there is no credible reason for such a short process.
“The Minister of Education’s answer during estimates hearings this week that this is a ‘short and very simple Bill’ is disappointing, and does not demonstrate an understanding of the level of potential impact to schools, and the hundreds of thousands of parents who are asked for donations.
“It instead appears the reason they don’t want a full Select Committee process is because this is another example of the Government failing to deliver on its promises.
“Due to the tight timeframes the Select Committee’s only attempt to address the Bill was by trying to communicate directly with all schools mid-way through this week.
“Labour promised all schools would be incentivised to end school donations. Their donations policy instead has been restricted to deciles 1-7 and will leave out 700 schools. There are a number of upset schools who are going to be tens of thousands of dollars disadvantaged.
“We have already heard a number of schools speak out publicly around the inequality of the policy with many disadvantaged families in schools with high decile ratings.
“This Bill will inevitably raise wider issues around Government policies related to what schools should or should not be charging or fundraising for. I encourage you to make a submission on this important Bill before they close.”
Note: To make a submission click here
It’s good news for teachers, parents and students that the Government has buckled under pressure and backed down by proposing significantly more cash, now close to $1.5 billion for teachers, with the unions indicating a potential settlement subject to teachers ratifying this, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National believes the offer is a significant improvement and we hope teachers can ratify this. We understand that while there are shifts on remuneration there will be some teachers who will be disappointed around the ‘accord’ which appears to not provide concrete funded initiatives to address workload issues. We will continue to advocate on these issues.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins is in maximum spin mode on how he’s found more money, claiming this is through savings via communities of learning and the fact that, somehow, the idea of a three year agreement is new.
“Pay parity is important for many teachers as are increases in management units and it is important we ensure they get the recognition for the work that they do. This has always been possible as part of the discussions and it will be interesting to see if release time is part of this deal.
“The Government has been weak and incompetent at every level in the way it has handled what have been long, drawn out, negotiations. These negotiations have gone on for more than a year for some teachers, with multiple days of strikes, including the mega strike the day before the Botched Budget. These delays have cost teachers and parents and have been hugely frustrating for everyone.
“The Prime Minister and Mr Hipkins have stubbornly said there is ‘no more money’. But the truth is they can miraculously find hundreds of millions of dollars when it suits them for trees and planes. Now, because of the pressure the Minister is under, he can find an extra $271 million for teachers too.
“Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters coming out and claiming there was an announcement yesterday, while negotiations were still undergoing, was irresponsible and unhelpful. He should not have done this and it was a mistake.
“Resolving workload issues in the future is crucially important. We know many teachers have made clear this is not just about pay. Reducing workload could be through the implementation of NCEA, or reducing teacher ratios and class sizes in primary schools, which National has committed to.
“The Government has a track record of failing to deliver. Yesterday it was revealed the Government hasn’t finalised the role and policy for the 600 Learning Support Facilitators which are important for helping children with complex needs and reducing workload for teachers.
“National knows teachers have felt let down due to the number of promises the Government has broken, we’ve highlighted the sheer number through our report card on Labour.
“While we are optimistic there will be ratification but we respect the important right of teachers to make the final decision on this offer. We do believe it is important to give them the space to consider these issues.”